The inaugural date for the Golden Island International Film Festival is the 7th to 13th November and it is seen to be a launch pad for home grown talent as well as bringing the best of world cinema to local audiences, and it is stated will become an annual event in Cyprus.
At the briefing event were Yesim Guzelpinar the Festival Director, and the two patrons, Baroness Meral Hussein -Ece OBE and actor Tamer Hassan. The Baroness commented on the place and significance in both the cultural and economic life of society, pointing out that in U.K. in spite of the recession, it is shown that in 2011 £4.6 billion was added to the British economy while employing some forty four thousand people. She pointed out that just a fraction of this sum could make a huge difference to the economy of Cyprus. Currently North America dominates the film festival market, with 70% of the world's three thousand annual film festivals being hosted there. Europe hosts a mere 18% in comparison, but she stated how wonderful it would be in Cyprus if GIIFF could "help give a bigger share of voice to the other 12%.
Ivor Benjamin, Chair of the Directors Guild
The Festival will have six strands to it, Cypriot Cinema, U.K. Cinema, Environment, Human Rights, Journeys and Women. Films related to the country strands must have been mainly produced by film makers form Cyprus, Britain, or largely shot in either place.
There is a competition for shorts and documentaries in the Cyprus strand, for which prizes of two thousand euros will be awarded to the best film and best newcomer. Full details concerning this can be found on the website www.GoldenIslandFilmFestival.org.
GIIFF patrons Tamer Hassan & Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece
Addressing the audience was British Cypriot film director-producer Erim Metto whose film resume includes the 2006 documentary, I Used to Live in Cyprus, about six Turkish Cypriots who had moved to the UK in the 1960s., during which he spoke of the “power of film”, Metto said they provided, “an important legacy for future generations to understand the experiences of the early Cypriot pioneers in England, many of whom are now dead”.
Closing the briefing was GIIFF patron Tamer Hassan, who gave a rousing talk in which he stated there is no reason why Cyprus could not be, “the next Cannes, Berlin or Venice – people just have to believe.” The famous actor has starred in over fifty feature films alongside the likes of Morgan Freeman, Richard Gere, Daniel Craig, the late Bob Hoskins and, more recently, with Sir Ben Kingsley in the soon to be released movie Robot Overlords.
Hassan stated that Cyprus was in a unique strategic location, able to reach out to the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa. He argued that a new studio on the island and tax incentives would help entice major productions, citing his experience on the multi-million pound Clash of the Titans, which had been filmed on location in the Canary Islands. He said his management team were ready to use their industry contacts to support emerging regional talent that featured in GIIFF by bringing the major distributors, stars and media to the festival. The key, he said, was “good content” and he urged filmmakers to submit their films to GIIFF and for Cypriots to get behind the festival.
Following the briefing light refreshments, supplied by Cyprus Kitchen and Tees Limited, were served to the panel, the attendees, among whom were Ivor Benjamin, Chair of the Directors Guild, Aysin Yilmaz, chair of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (KONSEY), Selcuk Can, Turkey's Culture & Tourism Attache, Enfield Councillor Tahsin Ibrahim, and numerous filmmakers, actors, media, UK Turkish, Greek and Cypriot community members. The TRNC Representative Oya Tuncalı, Turkish and Greek Cypriot ambassadors, Abdurrahman Bilgiç and Euripides L Evriviades, were among those who could not attend, but had sent their apologies and best wishes for the UK launch and festival.
GIIFF is backed by partners such as the Independent Film Trust, Raindance Film Festival, the University of East Anglia (Film Dept), and the Home for Co-operation (UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia). The main sponsors are Creditwest Bank and Girne American University. The festival is organised jointly by UK-based Balik Arts and the Golden Island Arts Association in Cyprus.
(Information supplied by Ipek Ozerim of Prickly Pear and T-Vine publication).
Festival director Yeşim Güzelpınar (left) and Turkish Cypriot actress Nalan Burgess
Council Head Aysın Yılmaz (far right)
Director Alkin Emirali
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: David James - owner of the copyright