Yolanda Markopoulou, Ioanna Valsamidou, Paris Mexis, Charis Lalousis, Manolis Manousakis, Michael Tebinka / Greece, Italy

The last minutes of life of a political prisoner in Smyrna in 1922, create an immersive voyage through time and space.

Having worked in theatre with refugees from the Middle East, reciting their life stories through performances for more than 10 years, I decided to understand the reason I am so moved and connected to their stories. I realized I have inherited a similar story of refuge from my grandmother. Thus, the story of “Paradise Lost” is a very personal one. Nikolaos Tsuruktsoglou who is the protagonist in this interactive virtual reality film is my great great grandfather. The story of the film is based on deep research, I have done for the past years, trying to understand what happened to him and his family the night he was violently killed during the Smyrna Great Fire in 1922.

This was the most tragic moment of the Greco Turkish war between 1919 and 1922. Izmir was the last city that burned to ashes sending over 2 million refugees of Greek descent from the coast of Turkey, across the Aegean Sea to the islands and mainland Greece.

Nikolaos Tsuruktsoglu, was an important political figure and a newspaper publisher of the French La Reforme, got imprisoned the night before the great fire break out. He was held in a room in the city’s guardhouse by the Turkish Army.

Exploring family archival material, I stumbled upon a letter. As I discovered, it was the letter that Tsuruktsoglou wrote from his cell to his wife Ifigeneia that night he was captured. However, it was not a farewell letter, but rather a letter of love and hope. I found out that although he had the chance to flee the city, he stayed back to stand by his people knowing that death was close. His story has left a mark on me in several ways. I see many common threads to the refugee and war stories of today.

This is a first – person immersive experience where the viewer embodies the protagonist. The story is fully experiential and is based on the close bond that can be created between them.
In the beginning of the experience the user will only see his hands that will allow him to interact in space. The rest of the body will remain invisible until a very specific moment, close to his death, where the user will mirror himself as a whole in the water.
I want the viewer to step out of his comfort zone, stop being a passive and take up a bigger role in a truly active and immersive VR experience.

The viewer is invited to write the farewell letter with their own, animated hands. Through the ‘open’ window of his cell, Tsuruktsoglu – thus the viewer who adopts his POV – travels above the burning city, following the route of the flying letter. During this ‘last’ trip above burning Smyrna he relishes his moments of joy, glory and memories of his family life. Before leaving this world forever he envisions his family escaping on a small boat to the horizon. Illusion, wish or reality? The viewer experiences the last 15 minutes of Tsuruktsoglu’s farewell to life, until he dies.

I believe in the power of experiential storytelling and how one can engage emotionally and physically at the same time. We are experimenting on ways the historical materials can find a new life into the recreated virtual world engaging the viewer in a poetic way and leading him through this voyage.

The viewer through Tsuruktsoglu’s story will experience the last moments of the destruction of this ‘paradise’ city traveling with his body in and out of real footage, following the path of millions of refugees.

Yolanda Markopoulou

Director / Producer / Co-Writer


Yolanda Markopoulou is a director creating interdisciplinary works with a focus in the use of site-specific locations and public space.She has directed over twenty performances.Her short films The Pyramids of Athens and It’s ok my Friend!, showcased in film festivals globally.She is in production of the documentary Station Athens (Agora Lab Prize 2021, TIDF 23) and just completed the 360 VR film and interactive performance White Dwarf (2022) that inaugurated the space of the the Immersive – All Around Cinema Section in Thessaloniki (TIFF 63).She is an ONX NY Studio member since 2022.She is the founder and director of Polyplanity Productions

Ioanna Valsamidou

Co-writer / Dramaturg / Researcher


Ioanna Valsamidou is a theatre researcher and dramaturge, she has been focused on documentary theatre, having worked in Germany and Greece. She has been occupied in productions by Onassis Cultural Foundation, Athens Epidaurus Festival, National Theatre of Greece, National Theatre of Dresden, HAU Berlin and other institutions. . She produced the artistic project on the digital spatial Allothroe Europe, with the participation of artists from Greece and Central Europe. She co-directed the Supper and An-estios, a series of performances based on documentation with homeless population, (street paper Shedia). She is the co-founder of mind the fact.

Paris Mexis

Creative Director


Paris Mexis is a director, designer and writer working in opera, theatre, dance, cinema, television and advertisement, creating shows, exhibitions, corporate events and promotional design. He is a creative associate of the multi awarded communication design agency Beetroot and an artistic associate of the international performance team ROOTLESSROOT. Paris Mexis was born in Athens and studied scenography in London at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (BA Theatre: Design for Performance, MA Scenography) and Prague at Divadelni fakulta Akademie Muzickych Umeni [DAMU] (Opera Design).

Charis Lalousis

Creative technologist / 3D Designer


In 2003 he graduated from the Department of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens. He is active as a video, 3D and VR artist counting collaborations with Loukia Alavanou for the project “Looking for the Pillar” which represented Greece at the Venice Biennale 2022, with Yolanda Markopoulou for the production of the VR installation “White Dwarf” which premiered at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in November 2022, with Yiannis Kakleas for his theatrical productions from 2005 to 2009, with Medea Electronique, of which he is a member, with Athens Pride, as well as with private companies for series projects.

Manolis Manousakis

Original Score / Sound Designer


Manolis Manousakis is working as a sound designer and composer for Film, Theater and Tv Shows. With studies in the US, Greece and England has been awarded a phd for his research on “Cross Arts _ Creative Production Methodologies”. As a member of Medea Electronique Collective he has been active as a producer and composer in experimental cross art projects with the use of interactive technologies such as VR film applications, Phone Apps and mixed media art installations.

Michael Tebinka

Director of Photography / VR 360


Michael Tebinka is a Director of Photography based in Sweden. At the border between artistic and technical exploration in moving images; Michael’s work spans across Narrative Film, Commercial, Documentary, Music and the Performing Arts. Starting his career as a stills photographer in printed and online media he quickly found a passion for telling stories through images. Trained in Singapore & London, he developed a visual language that fuse light and movement into a form that is much appreciated by his audience today. Michael’s works are characterised by a distinct aesthetic sensitivity, technical proficiency and a unique poetic vernacular.