Within the framework of the 64th Thessaloniki Film Festival, a special screening of the first three episodes of the highly anticipated TV series 17 Threads took place on Saturday, November 11th, at a packed Tonia Marketaki theater. The new series is produced by COSMOTE TV, the Festival's grand sponsor. The screenplay is written by Mirella Papaeconomou and Katia Kissonergi, while Sotiris Tsafoulias is directing
Initially, Orestis Andreadakis, the artistic director of the Festival, welcomed the audience to the special screening. "This gives me one more chance to thank COSMOTE TV for supporting both the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival for several years and for standing with us even through difficult times, such as the pandemic."
Then, the head of COSMOTE TV, Mr. Dimitris Michalakis, took the floor. "Welcome to the special screening of our new series 17 Threads. We are very proud of our work. It is based on the book written by Panos Dimakis and the screenplay is penned by Mirella Papaeconomou and Katia Kissonergi. It is, actually, a book that was brought to us by Panos Dimakis during the pandemic, but it stayed shut away in a drawer for quite some time. At some point, it eventually made its way back to us thanks to Tanweer, the production company we worked with for 17 Threads. We're here today to watch three of the six episodes of the series together. At COSMOTE TV, we have been slowly getting more involved in films and various co-productions since 2012. Then, we progressed with COSMOTE HISTORY into documentary production. Next, we decided to venture into fiction production and we met Sotiris Tsafoulias, with whom we collaborated in The Other Me. After that, we continued working on other series and now we are introducing our first series based on true events. It's the story of the first Greek perpetrator of mass murders in 1908, which has been very nicely approached by Sotiris and his team, demonstrating how a person can evolve into something completely different from what they set out to be in life, and how social pressure and difficult circumstances can drive a person to extremes."
Following that, the film director, Sotiris Tsafoulias, took the floor. "Good evening from me, as well. As you know I have a special bond both with you and your city, you are my good luck charm, all my projects begin here first and your reception is quite touching. The Festival serves as a compass for me, for how the series will proceed. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart my cinematic and television home, COSMOTE TV. This is the fourth series we've done together. I also want to thank Tanweer Productions, Dionyssis Samiotis, Natalie Douka and Panos Petropoulos for all the love and the partnership we had. All the actors who are here today, Denia Stasinopoulou, Panos Vlahos' co-star in the series, Melina Vampoula, Alkistis Poulopoulou, as well as a person without whom I cannot function on any theatrical or film set, Karolina Zapatina. Let's give a very warm round of applause for a man to whom I owe a lot, a tremendous artist and by far the sweetest creature one can encounter, my cinematographer, Claudio Bolivar. I want to express my gratitude to Minos Matsas for the wonderful music he provided the series with, to Giorgos Georgopoulos who was responsible for the editing and to the entire production team. Finally, I would also like to thank all of you who are here today for this series, to wish you a nice voyage in the universe of 17 Threads and to dedicate this series to all those who have been victims and have stubbornly refused to become perpetrators'', said Sotiris Tsafoulias.
The series is based on true events and it takes place in the time period 1906-1909 in Cythera. The central character of the story is Antonis, a peaceful cobbler portrayed by Panos Vlahos. Antonis is a beloved character until he is confronted with a serious accusation, which results in the local community driving him to flee.
The protagonist of the series is the well-known actor and singer Panos Vlahos. He is accompanied by: Marina Psalti, Athina Tsilyra, Thodoris Katsafados, Kostas Flokatoulas, Kostas Filippoglou, Manos Vakousis, Taxiarhis Hanos, Fotis Thomaidis, Denia Stasinopoulou, Melina Vampoula, Alkistis Poulopoulou, Eirini Ioannou-Papaneofytou, Stella Antipa, Christos Velianos, Konstantinos Gogoulos Natasa Exintaveloni, Eleni Dafni, Konstantinos Siradakis. Nikolas Drosopoulos, and Tasos Sotirakis. Involved are also Pigmalion Dadakaridis, Thrasos Stathopoulos, Mirella Papaeconomou, Dimitra Sakali, Dorothea Voutsadopoulou, Maria Kontodima, Giannis Voulgarakis, Fotis Petsos, Giorgos Kanellis, Kostas Rozis, Nikolas Drosopoulos, Konstantinos Tsedouros, Apos Kypraios.
After the screening, the author of the book, Panos Dimakis, took the floor. "It is a great joy, or happiness, I would say, to be here and to see a story told to me five years ago in the living room of a house in the village where the massacre took place. The story is visualized so masterfully and skillfully by my dear Sotiris and by all the actors. The funny thing is, even though I know, perhaps better than anyone else, this story, I am anxious to see what happens in the next episodes."
Afterwards, he read to the audience a note sent by the screenwriter Mirella Papaeconomou. "I am writing to wish you good evening, as unfortunately, for personal reasons, I was unable to attend tonight's screening of the three episodes of the series. Quite karmically, 17 Threads is the 17th series in my career in television. Seventeen wonderful journeys, some of the best of my life, infused with love and recognition from the public. Tonight, I want to thank Panos Dimakis, who entrusted me with his book, my colleague and friend Katia Kissonergi, who joined me in writing the screenplay, Sotiris Tsafoulias for his great directorial work, the excellent actors and all the artistic contributors who have given their best. Thanks again to all those who worked on the production of this series with professionalism, consistency and a positive atmosphere. Finally, I would like to thank all the people of Tsirigo, who for months helped us in every way, participating energetically. My beloved Cythera does not only produce excellent oil, honey and olive oil wheat rusks, but also extremely talented actors."
On how stressful it was for Panos Dimakis to consistently depict the whole story exactly as it happened, given it is a true incident, he replied, "For me, my biggest stress was how to handle a story of a heinous crime. In other words, how not to romanticize the protagonist. And throughout the book, I don't give him a pass, because as you'll see in later episodes, he does something very heinous. That was my main concern, but I also wanted his true story to be heard. I didn't want to do injustice to either side. That's why there is so much of the book devoted to the victims. Because there were so many victims and I am sharing their story as well."
As for the fact that the crimes were much more gruesome than how they are described in the book, Panos Dimakis said that he toned down their brutality and that there were stories that he decided not to include since they were even more atrocious. Sotiris Tsafoulias, taking the floor, stated: "On my part, I chose to put the ones that Panos decided not to, for exactly the same reason. In order to illustrate how repugnant these actions were and to ensure the series does not take sides. We neither wanted to create the hagiography of a person who killed so many others, nor to condemn him. We wanted to show the facts as impartially as we could. This is precisely why, when you have a likable actor delivering an amazing performance, it is necessary, I think, to show his actions as brutally as you can. This is precisely so that it is not seen as using cinematography or a likable actor to make light of the true facts."
Regarding the attitude of the locals to the revival of this story, Sotiris Tsafoulias noted: "When we first came, although Cythera is a very hospitable island, there were some who were reserved. And mouths were particularly closed during the initial period. As we progressed and lived with them, hearts began to open, and so did hugs. They also helped us tremendously on the island. It was very touching that there are some scenes in the upcoming episodes where the entire island comes together, people 85 and 90 years old. Specifically, I remember one lady in her 90s; we were shooting a scene, she was on her feet for five hours with a cane and when it was over, she came up to me to express her gratitude for what we were doing for the island, for this great work, and to tell us that she lost her grandmother in that mass murder. In one of the murder scenes, of the 15 people involved, the 10 or so are actual descendants of victims. They requested to participate in this scene in memory of their grandparents, as a tribute. As a matter of fact, they even told us a few more stories, which we didn't have time to include as it was too late. But overall, it was a wonderful experience, with a crowd that was very supportive." He added: "That's why we told the story, so it doesn't happen again. For I believe that 17 Threads is more relevant than ever."
Panos Dimakis agreed, saying that when he started, much earlier, people were even more tight-lipped. But he stressed that he found no particular animosity or rivalry. "A lot of people opened up, they figured out quite early on that we weren't trying to blame them, there were more profound reasons, driving us to go ahead with this particular project," he said.
17 Threads is set to premiere exclusively on COSMOTE TV in 2024.