Stamelos left New York in early 2010 and moved to İzmir (Smyrna), Turkey, to trace the foot- steps of his great grandparents in their native land. When he moved to Turkey, his family and friends thought he was crazy. His response was “maybe I was.” But he could not shake the stories he had heard growing up of old Smyrna and Asia Minor, as reported on the Greek America Foundation website.
Stamelos said that he gave his documentary the title Hello Anatolia, because the meaning of “hello” was about starting “new relationships with a fresh mind.”
“Most of the people I know had nothing to do with the negative events that occurred between Greece and Turkey. And at the end of the day, I and the viewer just see ourselves as human beings. So, the greeting we give to each other should be a simple and friendly ‘hello’,” the Greek-American filmmaker explained.
During the documentary, in his effort to strengthen his own connection to his cultural heritage, Stamelos becomes a bridge builder of two cultures – and two peoples – who share a lot more than they have that divides them, according to the Greek America Foundation website.
“In İzmir, I discovered so many old Greeks, Jewish, Ottoman, Levantine artifacts and houses. It was astounding. So right away, I knew I had to develop my journey into a story. So we can say that the pre-production began in 2010, and production took place between 2011 and 2013.”
“Going back to my mother’s great-grandparents, her entire family comes from Smyrna. They held a Turkish-Greek name ‘Aslanis’. They were talking about Çeşme, Alaçatı and İzmir. It wasn’t simply a place, but it was a personality. When they started living in Greece, they were called ‘Çeşmelides’, meaning ‘women of Çeşme’,” Stamelos said, talking about his family roots, according to Hürriyet Daily News.