By Alix Norman
There’s a real ‘feel-good’ factor about this event. It’s entertaining and informative, supportive of an important local industry and – most importantly – it’s set under the stars. I’m talking about the 5th Cypriot Directors Film Festival, an autumn institution, and an event well worth attending.Comprising seven films made by Cypriot filmmakers, and under the auspices of The Directors Guild Cyprus in collaboration with CyBC, the festival is testament to the passion of local filmmakers. Taking place in two outdoor locations – the Constantia Open Air Cinema in Nicosia and the Derynia Folk Art Museum – the festival includes feature films, short films and documentaries.
“The festival started five years ago to celebrate the artwork of Cypriot filmmakers,” says Stavros Papageorghiou, himself a filmmaker of no small renown. A member of The Board of Film Directors and one of the festival organisers, Stavros – like his colleagues – is passionate about promoting the talents of local filmmakers: “With very little access to the big cinemas on the island, who are often bound by contract to show the latest Hollywood blockbusters, there are very few opportunities for screening locally made films. And in the past, even the local television channels wouldn’t show such projects,” he explains, before adding that they have since improved their record.
“But the level of visibility of Cypriot films is still not satisfactory. The only party that supports our local film industry is the Ministry of Education and Culture, and their budget is decreasing year on year.” Investing in this key industry is vital to its survival, Stavros suggests, and something has to be done urgently. It’s a story one hears with ever increasing frequency, but in this case, perhaps it’s one that should be heeded: nearly all of the films in the festival have received awards at prestigious foreign film festivals, so there’s clearly a global market for what Cyprus has to offer.
“These are films made and produced by a new generation, films which have participated in festivals worldwide,” Stavros explains. “The Knifer by Yannis Economides, for example, was a hit in Greece, and has won many prizes.” Stavros’ latest work, Entelechy, will also be featured in the line-up of local hits, and is a must see for anyone fascinated by the mythical past of the island. A Ulyssean journey through the labyrinths of archaeoastronomy, geodesy and philosophy, Entelechy is a documentary investigating the ancient and indigenous calendar systems, the meanings of time and space, mathematics, calculating systems and geometry, maritime skills, as well as geomancy and urban planning.
A second documentary, Campos, the village, the people, the landscape by Michael Georgiades will also be shown and the festival will be celebrating the short film in its presentation of In the Name of the Sparrow by Kyros Papavassiliou, Lullaby by Yianna Americanou, Escape of the Queen by Petros Charalambous and Pharmakon by Ioakim Mylonas. The Directors Guild of Cyprus is also honouring the work of two highly important Cypriot filmmakers, Yiorgos Katsouris and Costas Pharmakas, during the festival with screenings of selected films and commercials that the two have shot in Cyprus in the past.
“This art form is an absolute passion,” says Stavros, referring to the island’s many distinguished filmmakers of both past and present. “Without passion, you can’t make films. It’s the essential ingredient. Let’s face it, Cyprus is not the ideal place to become rich by making films – it’s not Hollywood!” Stavros speaks from experience, having started his own distribution company, Tetraktys Films, to bring the abilities of local filmmakers to a wider audience: “The crisis is causing our local industry to go downhill, and we needed to find other ways to survive. By taking our films to the academic community in America and Europe, hopefully we’ll open up the market; for educational reasons, there’s a huge interest abroad, and hopefully this will allow filmmakers to make a profit from their projects.”
With such an abundance of filmmaking talent on the island, it would be a shame not to show support for the festival.
5th Cypriot Directors Film Festival-Under the Stars
Organised by The Directors Guild Cyprus in collaboration with CyBC. Supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture. September 12 – 15 at the Constantia Open Air Cinema, Nicosia 8:30pm and September 13-16 at the Derynia Folk Art Museum, Derynia, 8:30pm. Entrance to all screenings is free. [email protected], Tel: 99 694407or 99 629257