Heidi Trautmann

December 11 - 17 - Alternative Film Festival in Nicosia South at the Pantheon Cinema

Censored Cypriot directors stage alternative film festival

By Anna Hassapi Published on December 5, 2009


A GROUP of Cypriot film directors who say they were censored by officialdom will be staging a festival showcasing the work of Greek and Turkish Cypriot directors, with the aim of promoting a culture of tolerance and reconciliation.

The festival will feature films that the directors claim have been censored by the Film Directors Union, as they were deemed ‘not patriotic enough’ for a film festival on the theme of the Turkish invasion.

“My experience with the Directors Union and its President tells me that for them the basic principle of democracy ‘I disagree with you but I support your right of expression’ is totally alien. It is obvious that through their festival they aim to give a political, ‘patriotic’ message and the exclusion of certain films was done solely on ideological grounds that divide films into ‘patriotic’ and ‘treacherous’,” film director Panikos Chrysanthou said.

“Yes, there is censorship in Cyprus. But when film directors censor their co-workers, where will it take us?” added film director Yiannis Ioannou.

Chrysanthou’s internationally acclaimed film ‘Akamas’ caused controversy in 2006, when officers of the Ministry of Education and Culture considered the film unacceptable for inclusion in festivals it sponsored. The film depicted a love affair between a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot.  The contention continues, while censored film directors identify a specific officer in the Ministry as the source of the exclusion of films that appear favourable to reconciliation and tolerance between the two Cypriot communities.

Both Ioannou and Chrysanthou had been excluded from the film festival organised by the Directors’ Union. Initially, the Union’s President Andreas Pantzis approached Chrysanthou asking that he participate in the festival with a specific film only – an offer that Chrysanthou turned down on the grounds that he did not accept the conditional and selective inclusion of his work and did not agree with the message of Pantzis’ festival.

“The choice was made on the grounds that ‘this film fits in’, but I refused to play their game. I was then asked to state in writing that I refused to participate in their festival. In my letter  to the Union I explained that I did not see the reason to participate in a festival that does not dare to feature ‘controversial’ or ‘treacherous’ movies, thus continuing the policy of exclusion. Should I have approved this policy with which I disagree and which has offended me as a creator and as a person?” Chrysanthou asked.

“Unfortunately, people who should have been at the frontline of struggles for freedom of thought, against censorship, in favour of democracy in its daily application, and against fascism have been reduced to becoming the ambassadors of the darkest side of a force that fights with wrath any difference in opinion,” said Ioannou.

Thus, the bi-communal  NGO ‘Cypriot Film-makers’ have organised an alternative festival titled ‘Festival Against Intolerance and Fanaticism’, which will feature films by Greek and Turkish Cypriot directors that have been subjected to censorship in the past. Featured directors will include Chrysanthou and Ioannou, as well as Umit Inatci and Osman Alkas.

“We are presenting to the Cypriot public a series of films which we think express an opinion, are daring and come from people who feel that they have a common country, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin. That is art and that is cinema,” a press release announcing the festival read.

The alternative film festival will take place between 11 and 17 December at Pantheon Cinema in Nicosia.


I found this article in Cyprus Mail and I think it very important.

The Pantheon Cinema - a three-screen-cinema,  is in 29, Diagorou, Nicosia South.

Tel. 22 675 787

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