The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea

by Syllas Tzoumerkas

 

In a small eel-farming town in the west of Greece, two women live solitary lives while dreaming of getting away. Elisabeth is a once-ambitious policewoman forced to relocate from Athens ten years ago and now living a joyless, hung-over life; Rita is the quiet, mysterious sister of a lounge singer in the local disco. When a sudden death upsets the town and turns the local community upside-down, the two women who had been ignoring each other’s existence begin drifting towards each other. As the secrets hidden in the swamps begin to surface, they will have a chance to become each other’s saviours.

Cast
Angeliki Papoulia, Youla Boudali, Christos Passalis, Argyris Xafis, Thanassis Dovris, Laertis Malkotsis, Maria Filini, Michalis Kimonas, Christian Culbida, Michalis Mathioudakis, Laertis Vassiliou, Alkistis Poulopoulou, Thanos Tokakis, Katerina Helmy, Romanos Kalokyris, Areti Seidaridou, Vassilis Darmas, Marianna Bozantzoglou, Vlassis Mizalos, Ektor Liatsos, Haris Attonis, Nikos Diotis, Vassilis Svigos

World Premiere
69th Berlin International Film Festival 2019 – Panorama

Festivals / Awards
Festival International du Film Policier de Beaune 2019, Istanbul IFF 2019, Crossing Europe EFF 2019

World Press 
“The latest film from Greek director Syllas Tzoumerkas stars Angeliki Papoulia in one of her best roles yet. Tzoumerkas does masterfully paint the stifling atmosphere of a godforsaken town where women’s dreams and potential have come to die. With a score that ventures into thriller territory, menacing zooms and eerily calm overheads shots, the film evokes a place that looks like a swamp ready to slowly engulf everything that comes near it.”
-Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter

“‘A Blast’ director Syllas Tzoumerkas returns with an agitated, atmospheric and sometimes confounding exercise in modern Greek tragedy. Tzoumerkas’ latest invites comparisons to the loopier, trash-skirting genre outings of Herzog or Lynch, with the gradual unpeeling of layered madness and corruption in the sleepy working town of Missolonghi occasionally calling to mind an aggressively sunburned “Twin Peaks’”.
-Guy Lodge, Variety

“*** A Lynchian psychodrama in the sun[…] A drumbeat of anxiety and impending violence thuds insistently from this opaque, disquieting spectacle from Greek film-maker Syllas Tzoumerkas”.
-Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“***** While the film is saturated with Biblical quotes, icons of saints, and church choir songs, its form attends equally to the lowly human, animal, and nature. Pacifying all forms of life under the flag of future deliverance, the promise that each being will attain their most perfect form and self, The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea provides an convergence between religious submission and humanistic agency.”
-Savina Petkova, Electric Ghost

“*** “Papoulia and Boudali give two visceral performances[…] The beautiful cinematography; close shots that capture the inner angst of these characters. The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea is visually compelling, and a show of great creative ambition from Tzoumerkas.”
-Victoria Ferguson, The Upcoming

“The Miracle features two terrific female performances – one from co-writer Youla Boudali, the other from Angeliki Papoulia, [who] vibrates at an unnerving pitch that makes Nicole Kidman’s similarly styled characterisation in Destroyer look positively half-baked.[…] Tzoumerkas’s follow-up confirms that he’s a director of some brilliance and daring.”
-Jonathan Romney, Screen

” Syllas Tzoumerkas masterfully mediates between ultimate tristesse and inner hardcore brutality. He has plenty of time for silence, then again the cut is energetic. Both of them do justice to the violence, which is suppressed, then erupted all the more violent. The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea is a pretty big genre movie (finally!)”
– Barbara Wurm, TAZ

“There is much to admire in Tzoumerkas’ new film. Some of the early scenes, as well as some near the end of the movie, have an epic quality, thanks to Petrus Sjövik’s cinematography and Jean-Paul Wall’s orchestral score, as well as the dirty Athens setting and the corrupt beauty of the coastal town. Scenes of Elisabeth’s dreams, which overlap and mix with those of Rita’s, with their biblical imagery and unique visual style, transcend the film’s primary themes and add a mystical layer. Dedicated performances, especially Papoulia’s and Boudali’s, provide a powerful, dramatic gravity”
Vladan Petkovic, Cineuropa

”Not since Gene Hackman’s Jimmy Doyle in French Connection have we seen a nastier cop than the one embodied by Angeliki Papoulia.’
– Jörg Gerle, Filmdienst

 

 

Feature film, 120′, DCP, color, Greece-Germany-Netherlands-Sweden 2019

Direction
Syllas Tzoumerkas

Script
Youla Boudali, Syllas Tzoumerkas

Director of photography
Petrus Sjövik

Editor
Andreas Wodraschke

Production designer
Jorien Sont

Costume designer
Marli Aliferi

Music
Jean-Paul Wall, drog_A_tek, Phoebus

Sound
Marco Vermaas, Felix Siewert

Hair, make-up and SFX make-up design
Linda Boije af Gennäs, Evi Zafiropoulou

VFX supervisor
Luuk Meijer

Producer
Maria Drandaki

Co-producers
Titus Kreyenberg, Ellen Havenith, Olle Wirenhed

Co-producer Film I Väst
Anthony Muir

Associate producer ZDF/ARTE
Meinolf Zurhorst

Commissioning editor SFI
Yaba Holst

Associate producer
Jeroen Beker

Produced by
Homemade Films

Co-produced by
unafilmPRPL, Kakadua Films, Film I Väst, ZDF/ARTE, ERT, NOVA

With the support of 
Eurimages, Greek Film Centre, Film und Medienstiftung NRW, Netherlands Film Fund, Swedish Film Institute, DFFF, Netherlands Film Production Incentive, Media Programme, Prefecture of Western Greece, Geitonas Eels

World Sales
New Europe Film Sales

Distribution
Greece (StraDa Films), Germany (Real Fiction), Poland (Against Gravity), etc.