Searching for Thule (in development)

Essay | Greece | In Development | 74’

Talents Sarajevo Pack & Pitch Award

In her quest to solve the riddle of Europe, a passionate scholar reconstructs the journey of the ancient Greek sailor
Pytheas from Marseille to the mysterious country of Thule.

Writers: Yannis Karpouzis, Alexander Strecker
Producer: Tasos Koronakis
Production Company: Laika Productions / Empty Square
Approximate Budget: €500,000

Around 300 BCE, the remarkable adventurer Pytheas set out from the Greek colony of Marseille to explore
the frozen, fabled, and terrifying lands of northern Europe. Pytheas’s voyage, beginning on the Mediterranean
Sea and reaching towards Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, the Shetland Islands, and the Faroe
Islands, is retraced through a collection of film archives, archaeological surveys, and fragments from
ancient literature. Ultimately, the journey reaches the mythical land of Thule, at the end of the earth, on
the black coasts of Iceland and the melting glaciers of Greenland and the North Pole. As we retrace this
journey in the present through images of everyday life, landscapes, history, myths, and monuments, the
complex patchwork called Europe unfolds before us. Threading this patchwork together is the desire for
knowledge, exploration, and cultural exchange. This essay film delves into the search for European identity,
the continent’s ancient heritage, and the meeting of the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.

Director’s Statement
The story of Pytheas’s ancient journey has as its central theme the interpretation of the physical
world using science, experiment, and observation. The subjects of his research are of great cinematic
interest: the Moon, the stars, the change of the seasons, the contrasts in weather between North
and South, the seas and the tides. On the map, the route Pytheas took forms an arc from the
Mediterranean to Iceland and embraces a large part of the area we call Europe, both geographically
and historico-culturally. The film’s structure and editing approach work like a mosaic that forms a multiplicity
that is in dialogue with both the nature of Europe and Pytheas’s fragmented text. Scattered
images from distant places are tied together through the acts of editing and narration, and are thus
enriched with meaning and content. Pytheas’s journey can be understood as a metaphor for multiculturalism,
the co-operation of peoples, and a united European identity. In going on this journey
ourselves, we explore how the people in these regions live today, and how the traces of the past are
entangled with the present.

Director’s Biography
Yannis Karpouzis is an Athens-based artist working with photography, filmmaking, and
text, and a PhD candidate at the Ionian University and Royal Danish Academy. He was
awarded the Newcomer Filmmaker Award by the Greek Film Centre at the Thessaloniki
International Film Festival for the essay film Nikos Karouzos: Poems on the Tape
Recorder, among other awards. Paper Time Has Run Out, his book of poetry, was short-listed
for Greek state’s youth literature award and received the youth award from Anagnostis
magazine. His photographic project Parallel Crisis received the Descubrimientos Prize from
PHotoEspana in 2015 and the Portfolio Review Prize from the Athens Photo Festival in 2016. His projects
explore areas associated with social imbalance, political identity, and media aesthetics.