Set in Thessaloniki during the German occupation in 1943, the film—based in reality–interweaves two narrative lines, the story of the “illegal” love between Estrea, a young Jewish girl, and Giorgos, the brother in law of the famed composer Vassilis Tsitsanis, and the story of Tsitsanis himself, the most famous composer-musician of Greece trying to survive in an increasingly brutal Nazi regime. Much of the action takes place in and around the tavern owned by the then 28-year- old Tsitsanis at a time when he had reached his peak as a composer. Based on the best-selling Greek book, Ouzeri Tsitsanis, Cloudy Sunday portrays the rarely shown Greek occupation in which the tragedies and horrors of the Nazi occupation are demonstrated to sorrowful effect on the people of Thessaloniki in 1940s Greece. The film’s title comes from the title song “Cloudy Sunday”, which Tsitsanis wrote after coming across blood in the snow leading to the body of a victim. This scene is depicted in the film, a poignant reminder that fiction never strays too far away from fact. In the love story, the strength of the main actors’ performances give an impressive edge to the familiar tale of forbidden love, and
in the story of Tsitsanis and his band and tavern, there is the stunning use of Revetika music (Greek, often bluesy, folk music). Visually, Cloudy Sunday convincingly illustrates its 1940s setting, a testament to the hard work of the filmmakers, who took three months to shoot the film with over two thousand extras and six thousand costumes. The final act of the film, in which the first trains depart taking Thessaloniki’s thousand-year-old Jewish community to the concentration camps, bring both the brutalities of the times and the Greek’s courage and the ability to overcome fear and prejudice.
Greece, 2016, Greek with English subtitles, 118 minutes