This one is different. There is no famous subject, no life-changing moment or huge event being dealt with, but Sayome stands out thanks to its warmth, humour and kindness. Nikos Dayandas’ 55-minute-long documentary is fascinating and original, full of soul and nostalgia. Unlikely to come across it accidentally, but very much worth tracking down, Sayome comes highly recommended.
Written and directed by Greek filmmaker Nikos Dayandas, the film tells the story of a little Japanese girl named “Sayome” who was raised by her grandfather in a little village inJapanand who, at the age of 22, decided to leave home and follow a Greek sailor all the way toCrete. InGreece, she found a new family and culture and created her new home filled with improbable combinations and beautiful culture clashes.
The project was co-produced by Anemon, ERT, ARTE and the Greek Film Centre and after appearing in a number of film festivals, it was selected for Docs For Sale at IDFA 2011 and then went on to win the URTI GRAND PRIX for Author’s Documentary at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival, as well as the FIPRESCI award at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and the ORPHEUS Award for Best Documentary and Audience Choice at the LA Greek Film Festival.
The reason why Sayome is so interesting to watch is exactly because you’ve never heard of this woman before in your life. Somehow, her story is exactly what makes this documentary so inspiring and appealing to a much broader audience than one would normally expect. In the face of Sayome, the viewer sees himself and in her life he sees cultural differences at their best, how they can make one feel out-of-place and how they can also give the chance for a beautiful new beginning.
Personally, I found the choice of subject extremely clever. During the first few seconds I caught myself thinking “why do we care?”, before I allowed myself to become immersed in a very real, warm and easily accessible world and was properly let into the life of a next-door hero. This is the kind of inspiration that comes from everyday life, human interactions, love, friendship and family bonding.
It’s exactly why Sayome’s story is so timeless and universal. And why Sayome’s character becomes a symbol for freedom, independence, strength of character and individuality. Thanks to Nikos Dayandas, this is not yet another strong personality, another important –though unknown—life, that we’ll never hear about. Sayome is a brilliant example of an unlikely meeting of two very different cultures, their diverse passion and unprecedented stubbornness and pride.