“One of the main aims of this series, is for the Greek Pontian genocide to be globally recognised and not just for our satisfaction and for the feeling of fairness as Greeks, but because a crime that is not punished historically keeps on getting repeated”. Manousos Manousakis (Director)
The TV series ‘To Kokkino Potami’ is a Greek dramatic television series directed by Manousos Manousakis for Open TV in 2019. It is based on the homonymous novel by Haris Tsirkinidis detailing the real events surrounding the Greek Pontian genocide.
This is a series that everyone must watch.
There is even a petition that ‘To Kokkino Potami’ should be added on Netflix, making it one of the first Greek TV series added, so that everyone can view it. You will not be disappointed. To get a quick taste, watch the Kokkino Potami trailer:
The series follows the real-life story of a young couple from Pontos, a then Greek-populated region on the southern coast of the Black Sea during the 19th century. Many years after their arranged engagement as children, Miltos Pavlidis (Ioannis Papazisis) and Ifigeneia Nikolaidi (Anastasia Pantousi), who are now young adults, meet by chance in Constantinople and fall madly in love before discovering each other’s identity. Their romance flourishes among the unrest started by the rebellion of the Young Turks’ (Neotourkoi) political reform movement against the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and fights to survive through a line-up of events that lead to extreme violence against minorities.
With 32 episodes filmed in 16 locations across Greece, Russia and France, with a cast of 170 actors and more than 1,100 extras, the series is set during the turbulent era surrounding the events of the Greek Pontian genocide, which until today still remains unrecognised by Greek and international politics.
Premiering on October 6th 2019 and with its dramatic series finale on July 13th 2020, this is the most expensive production in the history of Greek television with a total cost of over 4 million euros.
This series is quite historically accurate and teaches the viewer what happened during one of the most tragic times in history. It doesn’t just show us what the Pontians endured from the Turks but also how the Greek government did not support them. As a result, as many as 353,000 people were killed, and the ones that survived were uprooted during the subsequent forced population exchange.
Another interesting aspect of this series is that some of the characters are based on real people that played a key role in events that took place.
Even the main characters Miltos and Ifigeneia are based on a real couple. The author of the novel stated “When I was 11 years old, Father Grigorios told me a story of two young Pontians that fell in love and went through a lot during the tragic years”.
The director Manousos Manousakis has stated in interviews that one of the reasons that made him want to make this series was to show the viewers the similarities of that period with today. “The politics of the great powers are repeating themselves in a nightmarishly identical way,” he has stated. “Yesterday’s allies were tomorrow’s enemies, and vice versa, but the people couldn’t see it. Like nowadays, our heroes believed that their daily lives were in the safe zone, that they could never be threatened and that the law and order would always protect them. But the world just disappeared from under their feet, literally within hours.”
Ask anyone who has watched the series, and they will tell you how it has touched their soul and triggered a range of emotions in every single episode.
This series teaches us and reminds us of our history.
We see and connect with characters who stood up for themselves, who loved, who hoped for a better future, never gave up and just tried to survive.
Every single episode demands your full attention while also raising thoughts and questions.
The strength of this specific series doesn’t have to do only with what it presented to the viewer, but how it got presented. This was achieved by the scenes that were full of emotion, and the beautiful music that accompanied these scenes. The music had a way to sometimes give you hope and other times you would feel it so deeply it would bring you to tears.
*Listen to the theme song To Kokkino Potami by Eleonora Zouganeli.