It is a great pleasure to welcome you to our beloved venues, Rialto Theatre in Limassol and Zena Palace in Nicosia, for our first year as Artistic Directors of Cyprus Film Days International Festival.
We want to thank all of you–regular festival attendees as well as new arrivals–for honouring us with your presence, and for joining us on this nine-day-long cinematic journey filled with a kaleidoscope of images and stories from around the world.
When we started working on this edition, we set ourselves a question: ‘what now?’ In a world that so often–and so brazenly–disregards the value of individual and collective life, succumbing to humanity’s destructive instead of its creative impulse, how can we use the power of cinema to help us imagine a better, and radically different future? Now what? What does the future of collectivity, including collective viewing experiences, hold, when the very technological advances that enable us to connect to millions of unfamiliar people and places online seem to also be encouraging physical and emotional isolation, and social disconnects?
A work of film is a work of collective effort: it depends as much on its experienced director or producer as it does on its first-time production assistant. It should likewise be an effort of collective celebration. The cinematic arts have a magnetic power of pulling people together. The experience of watching cinema brings us into contact with a wealth of other realities, showing us the vastness and diversity of our world, while also reminding us of how small, and simultaneously precious, each life is.
Our selections for this year’s programme have been guided by these questions and concerns, and together the films touch upon a broad spectrum of issues, while employing a range of formal approaches, from the naturalistic to the surreal. This eclectic selection aims to position the festival as a catalyst for stimulating conversation and reflection on broader social and cultural conversations happening in Cyprus and beyond: including climate change, the suppression of democratic rights, questions of migration and refugeedom, the aggressive militarisation of borders and landscapes, gender-based violence, queer and non-binary identities, and the status of culture in an increasingly bigoted environment that prizes profit and influence above all other endeavours.
This year, Cyprus Film Days is proud to present a diverse selection in its two main sections: Glocal Images, the international competition section of our festival features bold cinematic visions from up-and-coming filmmakers who dare to grapple with pressing social issues by often pushing the boundaries of fiction; and Viewfinder, which includes some of the best-known, multi-award-winning, and most impactful films from the international festival circuit. Complementing these, is a parallel programme titled Cyprus Collaborates, a special section of Cypriot co-productions that aims to showcase the many ways in which the Cypriot filmmaking industry continues to transcend boundaries, claiming a place on the international scene (and screen!)
In addition to CFD’s main programming we are also thrilled to be hosting the CFD Children and Youth Festival, under the artistic direction of Stavros Pamballis, proposing a rich programme of screenings for kids and teenagers, as well as a series of hands-on workshops focused on VR, filmmaking, and sustainability. Furthermore, the Festival’s reach continues to expand thanks to the growing impact of Dot.on.the.Map Industry Days, headed by Danae Stylianou. Now in its fourth edition, Dot.on.the.Map–the Festival’s co-production, training and networking platform–brings producers, directors and scriptwriters from the Mediterranean region together with international film professionals, here in Limassol.
It is our wish to continue developing Cyprus Film Days into a hive of creative exchange, diverse contributions and open discussions, and for this reason we are particularly excited to bring a number of collaborators into the fold this year: from artist Dimitris Chimonas, whose meta-cinematic vision—inspired by Sessions, an ongoing project of collective queer happenings—graces the opening and closing ceremonies of the festival; designers Clio Hadjigeorgiou and Lisa Rebeca, who brought our ideas for a re-imagined visual identity for the festival to life; the editorial team of Becoming magazine, Polymnia Tsinti and Nicholas Herzberg; as well as the curators and featured artists of the exhibition we can only begin to notice at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre; and the Directors Guild of Cyprus.
Further expanding the festival’s international scope—together with its thematic and formal breadth—is one of our main goals for the years ahead, and our jury this year reflects this. The 2023 Cyprus Film Days jury consists of prominent personalities from the international and local film community. The jury president is award-winning French film director Julie Bertuccelli, whose latest film Jane Campion: La Femme Cinéma premiered as part of the Official Selection in Cannes in 2022, accompanied by fellow jury members: Talent Agent Georg Georgi, Managing Director of Berlin-based Das Imperium agency; Sebastian Markt, head of Berlinale’s Generation section; Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Cypriot film director Yianna Amerikanou, whose film .dog won CFD’s Best Cypriot Film and Best Director Award last year.
We want to thank our predecessors, Tonia Mishiali, Costas Constandinides, and Marios Stylianou, for their invaluable work and for building the festival into one of the island’s most important cultural events. We also want to thank Dr. Elena Christodoulides, Acting Director of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Culture of the Deputy Ministry of Culture, as well as Georgia Doetzer, Chief Executive of the Rialto Theatre for their continuous support. Moreover, we would like to thank the Mayors of Limassol and Nicosia, as well as the members of the small yet effective festival team for their tireless efforts. A huge and special thanks also to the volunteers, partners, sponsors, and supporters of Cyprus Film Days, without whom the success of this year’s edition would not have been possible.
A queer love story that tries to escape the patriarchal hierarchy of a Pakistani family. A Borgesian travelogue that defies genre. The bittersweet recollection of a fragile parent-child relationship during the summer holidays. An afro-futurist musical in defence of non-binary and labour rights set in Burundi. The nostalgia for an environmentally secure past in the Italian Alps. A rumination on animal life in an era of mass consumption. The struggles for artistic and political freedom in Iran. These are just a few of the topics, landscapes, and relationships that this year’s programme holds in store for you.
We hope the formally daring, emotionally moving, and politically stirring works of film screened this week will encourage conversations about the state of filmmaking today, as well as the present and future of our society, encouraging us to become more attuned to each other, and to the multiple lived experiences of people, animals, and nature, around the world.
Enjoy the festival!
Argyro Nicolaou & Marios Lizides