History of Cinema in CYPRUS

Historical overview

Independence from the UK was approved in 1960 with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled almost 40% of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", but it is recognized only by Turkey. UN-led talks on the status of Cyprus resumed in December 1999 to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.

History of cinema from 1896-2000

The Cypriot cinema was born much later than the cinema of other countries and in the last decades the first coordinated steps have been taken to create a distinct Cypriot cinematography.

The main reason for this delay was the belated entry of Cyprus into international society as an independent state in 1960 and the dramatic events which left the island divided in a greek and Turkish part which are hostile towards eachother. The first person to actually show a film, in Cyprus, commercially, was a Turkish Cypriot named Mustafa Ali in 1913.

The short history of the cinema in Cyprus begins at the end of the '40s, when the British Colonial Government started to train Cypriot filmmakers at the Colonial Film Unit, while with the creation of Cypriot television in 1957, the first short-length films, mainly documentaries, began to be made. In 1958, the first independent production was achieved, entitled "Roots". The pioneers of Cypriot cinema during the 1950s were George Lanitis, Ninos Fenek Mikellides, Reno Wideson, Polys Georgakakis and others, who directed and produced short-length films. Some of these were -- The Island of Aphrodite (1963), Kypros ou me ethespisen, Salamina, Botrys of Cyprus, Epikoinonia; and the independent production of the Cinematographic Company APHRODITE, Rizes (Roots) of Nikos Lanitis and George Stivaros. The first film of this Cypriot Film Production company was, To Heri (The Hand).

Feature length films were produced much later in the 1960s. George Filis in 1963 directed a film depicting the traditional Cypriot wedding. In 1965 George Filis directs the film Agapes kai Kaimoi ( Love Affairs and Heartbreaks) and soon after To Televtaio Fili (The Last Kiss) and 1821 and Cyprus. In 1969 Foto-Cine (George Katsouris and Kostas Farmakas) directed the comedy O paras o maskaras ( Money - the Clown).

During the whole of this period, the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation continued its productive course. In 1970 the film -Communication' by George Lanitis won the first prize (for a short foreign film) at the Salonica Festival. The independently produced film by Ninos Fenwick Mikellidis "Cyprus, Ordained to me" of 1963 won a prize at the Karlovy Vari Festival. George Filis made two films of ethographic content and then continued to direct documentaries on subjects drawn from the history of Cyprus. His documentary -Gregoris Afxentiou, won a prize in 1973 at the Salonica Festival. In 1968 Michael Papas made the existential dramatic film -Right of the Private Individual'.

During the late 60s and early 70s production showed a richer crop of films. George Filis produced and directed Gregoris Afxentiou , Etsi Prodothike i Kypros ( Cyprus Betrayal) , and the Mega Document. The cinematographic entrepreneur D. Herodotou also starts producing films : Dakrya kai Diplopenies (Tears and Strings), I Diki tou Fytilla i (Fitillas' Trial), I Apagogi tis Gogous (Kidnapping Gogou), O Firfiris stin Athena (Firfiris visits Athens), To Ftohopedo tis Kyprou (The Cypriot Pauper), Diakopes stin Kypro ( Holidaying in Cyprus) and O Tragoudistis tis Kyprou (The Cyprus Singer).

In the mid- and late 70s Costas Demetriou started producing and directing a number of feature films : Ta Hassamboulia , (Vendetta) Dolofoneiste ton Makario (Order to Kill Makarios), Gia pion na vrexi (For whom should it rain). Another young director, Evangelos Ioannides made his mark with the film Makarios:The long March .

In the 80s the following feature films were produced: O Avrianos Polemistis (Tomorrow's Warrior) by Michalis Papas, Trimithi and O Viasmos tis Afroditis (The Rape of Aphrodite) by Andreas Pantzis and Nekatomenoi Aerides (Troubled Winds) by Yiannis Ioannou. The most recent productions include To Ftero tis Migas (The wing of the Fly ) by Cypriot director Christos Shopahas, I Sfagi tou Kokora (The Slaughter of the Cock) by Andreas Pantzis (released in 1996) and Dromoi kai Portokalia (Roads and Oranges) by Aliki Danezi Knutsen (released in 1997). The last two feature films have received prestigious awards in international festivals. I Sfagi tou Kokora which is a Cypriot/ Greek/ Bulgarian co-production has been nominated by Greece as its representative in the Oscar awards for best foreign language film for 1997. In 1985 Christos Shiopachas was awarded first prize at the Moscow Festival for his film -The Descent of the Nine' and in the same year Andreas Pantzis won first prize at the Salonica Festival for his film -The Rape of Aphrodite'.

Cinematographic production in Cyprus received a boost in 1994 with the establishment of the Cinema Advisory Committee. The annual amount currently set aside (2000) in the national budget stands at Cy Pounds 500,000 (about 850,000 Euros).

In addition to government grants Cypriot co-productions are eligible for funding from the Eurimages Fund, a Council of Europe institution financing European film co-productions. To date four feature-length films in which a Cypriot was executive producer have received funding from Eurimages. The first was I Sphagi tou Kokora (1992) which has been completed in 1996, Hellados (And the trains fly to the sky, 1995), which is currently in the post-production phase and O Dromos gia tin Ithaki (The Road to Ithaka, 1997) of Costas Demetriou which was premiered in March 2000. In September 1999, To Tama (The Promise) of Andreas Pantzis has also received funding from the Eurimages Fund. Two other feature films, not funded by Eurimages were produced, Aliki Knutsen's Bar and Christos Georgiou's Under the Stars.

Cyprus (born) most acclaimed international director is Michael Cacoyannis. Born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1922. He studied Law and Dramatic Art in London. After working as an actor and a director for the English stage he arrived in Athens in 1953 and devoted himself to the cinema. He made Windfall in Athens (1954), Stella (1955), The Girl in Black (1956), A Matter of Dignity (1958) and was the first Greek director achieve international recognition. He went on to make the films: Our Last Spring (1960), The Wastrel (1961) a brought to the screen Euripides' Electra (1962). Zorba the Greek (1964) was a huge success worldwide, winning six Oscar nominations and three Oscars. His other films include The Day the Fishes Came Out (1967), two further tragedies: The Trojan Women (1971) and Iphigenia (1976), a fervent documentary about the plight of Cyprus Attila '74, Sweet Country (1986) and his most recent film Up, Down and Sideways (1992).

To Ftero tis Migas of Cypriot director Christos Shopahas and Vyssinokipos (Cherry Garden) of Cypriot-born director, Michael Kakoyiannis, have received funding from Eurimages with Greece as the major co-producer. In total Cyprus has participated as a co-producer in the production of 13 feature-length films funded by Eurimages with a total subsidy from the Fund of around 16 million French Francs.

Cinema links from CYPRUS

Click to Cyprus Greek portal to the island offers a minor cinema section
Cyprus dot Com Gateway to the island offers a cinema section showing all screenings in the major cities.
North Cyprus Turkish portal to the island offers a cinema section with mostly Hollywood films.
Theo Panayides Cypriot film critic, full of capsule reviews and off beat film information.
Welcome to Cyrpus Yet another portal to the greek part of Cyprus, including a film section

Michael Cacoyannis

Andreas Pantzis

Christos Georgiou

The Bar

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