Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Cypriot Issue and a Universal Question

With recent events in Cyprus and the renewed enthusiasm of the possibility of reunification, or at least steps towards it, I have found myself seeking out more information on all things Cyprus related. Politics have never been of any interest to me in any way before, but I'm finding myself more and more interested in Cypriot news and recent history. 

I have been searching for more information on the country, the history and the troubles.  Of particular interest to me is the stories of the Cypriots themselves, not the politicans and the soldiers but the everyday lives and the impact of events on them.  I now hear of many stories of Greek and Turkish Cypriots living peacefully not only side by side but together as friends and until recently I was not aware that had happened.  I had been under the impression that they were always enemies, and it is encouraging to hear that many people see themselves as Cypriot first, Greek or Turkish second. 

I was therefore interested to 'meet' Alkin Emirali online, a Cypriot of Turkish descent and a screenwriter writing a 'Perfect Motion' production' telling a story of how neighbouring people can both be friends or enemies and how these feuds can be unnecessarily passed through generations. 

Our Cyprus is a short drama about friendship. It reveals a human perspective that cuts through the political terrain. Through the community-spirited Mehmet-Ali, the culture and kinship, which Greek and Turkish Cypriots once shared, is illuminated. He takes us back to a more innocent and beautifully ambiguous past when it was far harder to see where Greek Cypriots ended and Turkish Cypriots began.
Despite being about the Cypriot issue, this story could easily have played out between a Palestinian and an Israeli or a Protestant and Catholic in Northern Ireland. Sadly it explores an almost universal question...
How is it that neighbouring peoples throughout history have regarded their points of difference as infinitely more important than their great wealth of commonality, and taken up arms against one another?



Writer / Director Alkin Emirali explains why he wants to tell this story....



The stories of a divided Cyprus remain largely untold.
My grandparents left Cyprus for the UK in the early 50's, before the troubles that tore the island in two. They were economic migrants who were looking for a better life than the one afforded them as rural peasants from the village of Lurucina.
I grew up hearing my grandparents speaking primarily Greek Cypriot despite being Turkish Cypriots. I heard about my paternal Grandfather and his drinking buddy the Greek Orthodox priest. I learnt that both my Grandfathers (Turkish Cypriots) were baptised in the church as well as being circumcised as Muslims.  My Grandmother told me how she was trained as a seamstress by a Greek Cypriot neighbour. I learnt that Greek and Turkish Cypriots would celebrate each other's religious holidays. 
It seemed to me that these people were not just neighbours, but such close friends that it was hard to see where one ended and the other began. In a more innocent time it seems, Cypriots were one people sharing a culture and a cuisine which was more to do with their island home and each other than either mainland Greece or Turkey.
Our Cyprus is my attempt to reconcile my family's experience of a beautifully mixed and ambiguous Cyprus with the troubles that tore an island and a people in two
Cypriot story between Greek and Turkish Cypriots

You can help bring this film to life by contributing to the crowd fund campaign  to help bring the film to life. We are here to raise £7,750 in total, but you can get involved for as little as £5, that's less than the price of a cinema ticket! 
Visit the website to find out more about the Our Cyprus project and Indiegogo campaign

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