Coffee Cup Conversations

When any major event is being organised for the very first time the excitement and anticipation builds up in the final few days before kick off. North Cyprus is particularly famous for its festivals that range from music and theatre to the promotion of local fruit and vegetables. This year the very first film festival on the island will take place between the 7th and 13th of November. It’s time for the directors to shout, “Lights, camera, action!”

Can Gazi and Peter Wills

The first Golden Island International Film Festival has attracted much support from cinema and movie enthusiasts from around the world. British expat Peter Wills and I had a very informative chat recently about his involvement with this landmark event. Peter has been active in both public relations and acting for many years, and so his current position of TRNC coordinator for the film festival is well suited. He has worked as an extra on many productions in the UK, and got a major break in the TRNC when he auditioned for a part in the film “Code Name Venus”. Turkish Cypriot director Tamer Garip shot the film in North Cyprus and was so impressed by Peter’s audition that he wrote a new part especially for him. Naturally, when he heard about the film festival, Peter jumped at the chance to become a volunteer.image
Peter enthusiastically tells me that he believes this first film festival will bring much needed attention to this small island tucked away in the Mediterranean. “North Cyprus has many beautiful locations, authentic and modern, that could be used in many films”, says Peter. “The mountains and sea add to the appeal for directors and producers”, he adds. It’s a massive industry and one that is growing fast in our country.

The film festival is the brainchild of Yeşim Güzelpınar, the founder of Balık Arts; a UK based organisation that works with Turkish speaking children on a variety of international projects. With funding from various sources Yeşim’s dream has become a reality. The films have already been submitted, and a formal jury will select the films to be shown throughout the week-long festival. There will be monetary prizes for winners in various categories that includes short films and documentaries. There will be a gala premiere with a red carpet ceremony and many directors, actors and actresses from across the globe will be attending. In fact one of the patrons of the event is Turkish Cypriot actor based in the UK, Tamer Hassan. Baroness Meral Hüssein Ece is another distinguished supporter of the event.

The TRNC public is being encouraged to support the festival by watching the various films that will be screened at the local cinemas. Peter believes that many of us, in particular the expat community here, do not frequent the cinema salons as much as we should. A mini survey is being conducted in order to understand the cinema habits of those of us living in North Cyprus. Are there not enough film salons? Are the salons not up to standard? Do the subtitles distract? Many people like to make an evening of it when going to the movies, maybe adding a meal or a drink at a bar into the deal. Should there be restaurants and cafes located close to the cinema? These are all important questions!

Peter and his colleagues are hoping for a very successful start to what they hope will be an annual event. Will this be the first step in encouraging international, and local, directors to make more movies on our island? Time will tell, but it’s a good start. Nearer the time the programme of events will be released to the press, in the meantime more information can be obtained from the official website

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