Searching for Thule



Essay Film | Greece, Iceland | 74’

Director: Yannis Karpouzis

Writers: Alexander Strecker, Yannis Karpouzis

Producer: Tasos Koronakis

Approximate Budget: €500,000


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.

P&P Talents Award, Sarajevo Festival 2023


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 theMediterranean 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.

Producer’s Note

As the producer of the essay documentary film, Searching for Thule, I am thrilled to provide insight into our development process. Searching for Thule takes audiences on a captivating journey, retracing the footsteps of the intrepid adventurer, Pytheas, as he explored the northern lands of Europe over two millennia ago. A journey through space and time that explores European identity, the continent’s ancient heritage, and the meeting of the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Shot largely on 35mm film, Searching for Thule, will captivate the spirit, the body, and the mind on a wondrous journey. Its visual approach embraces the diverse landscapes and cultural tapestry of Europe, capturing the essence of each location and immersing audiences in the rich history and heritage along Pytheas’s path. To ensure the historical accuracy and authenticity of our film, Professor Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, a renowned expert in ancient European archaeology (Oxford University) has agreed to serve as our scientific advisor. Securing funding has been a dynamic process. Recognition of our project’s potential was demonstrated through its participation in Sarajevo Talents and receiving the Pack & Pitch award. Additionally, the support of the Greek Film Center through its Script Development Program has been instrumental in moving our project forward. We remain dedicated to pursuing production funding and are actively exploring various opportunities to secure the necessary resources. We look for National Film Funds through minority co-productions programs, Cultural Institutions Grants, and are exploring partnerships with distributors and sales agents who specialize in experimental films. As we continue our journey towards production, we are driven by the desire to bring Pytheas’s remarkable expedition to life on the screen. We extend our gratitude to all those who have supported the development of Searching for Thule thus far, and we look forward to sharing the results of this captivating cinematic experience with audiences worldwide.