Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cypriot filmmakers receive awards from the first Golden Island International Film Festival

Director Ahmet Albakri with his prize for Best Documentary at GIIFF 2014

Borderless! and Brink were among the winning films announced at the Closing Gala of the very first Golden Island InternationalFilm Festival (GIIFF), which took place last Thursday. The filmmakers were presented their prizes of €2,000 each by Creditwest Bank, the Festival’s main sponsor, at Le Chateau Lambousa in Girne. The Festival closed with the screening of the winning films along with a film created by young British and Cypriot filmmakers who worked together as part of the Erasmus Plus project during the Festival.

Following selection by jury, the directors of the Best Documentary (Borderless!, directed by Ahmet Albakri), and Best Short Film (Brink, directed by Fardad Mottarjemi Khodadad and Kürşat Sekmen), along with the two Best Newcomers (Arınç Arısoy for Evolution and Sholeh Zahraei and Kamil Saldun for The Olive Tree at The Border) were each presented their prize by Creditwest Bank’s CEO Dr. Süleyman Erol and Executive Vice-President Mazher Zaheer. The awards followed a competition for shorts and documentaries in the Cyprus strand of GIIFF 2014, reflecting the Festival’s commitment to supporting local filmmakers.
Dr. Süleyman Erol and Mazher Zaheer (both on far left) with GIIFF 2014 winners
In her speech, GIIFF director Yeşim Güzelpınar recalled comments made to her by Oscar award-winning producer and director Peter Fudakowski, who attended GIIFF 2014 for the screening of his latest film Secret Sharer. Fudakowski said:  Cyprus deserves to be recognised with its beautiful landscape, cultural heritage, and potential for economic growth and tourism.”

Güzelpınar continued, “When we decided to set up the festival we set certain targets. We wanted to open the doors for Northern Cyprus to the worldwide film industry, bring some great films to audiences here, provide [ethnic] minorities with screenings from their homeland, and to play a role in inspiring Cypriot directors…to produce new quality work and attract the attention of international film festivals.”

Over 65 features, documentaries and shorts were screened in eight venues across North Cyprus and the UN Buffer Zone, along with director-led Q & A’s throughout the week-long inaugural Golden Island International Film Festival, which closed on 13 November.  Among the films selected for this year’s GIIFF programme were several that have been put forward for the 2015 Oscar Academy Awards, including Nihat Seven’s Uzun Yol (Long Road), nominated by BAFTA, with documentary Plot for Peace another contender for next year’s Oscars.
Yeşim Güzelpınar (c) with two jurors from GIIFF 2014
The Closing Gala also screened the collaborative works of young Cypriot and Film Beyond Borders/ Erasmus Plus project participants, where they shot, edited and presented a 20-minute film they had made in Cyprus. The initiative was funded by Erasmus Plus, which enabled 25 people from Britain to travel to North Cyprus to take part in the project and to gain valuable work experience as volunteers at GIIFF.

GIIFF is backed by a number of partners including the Independent Film Trust, Raindance Film Festival, Detmold International Short Film Festival, Datça International Short Film Festival, the University of East Anglia (Film Dept), the Home for Co-operation (Cyprus), Movies that Matter, the Turkish Cypriot Community Association (UK), and Youth Power (Cyprus). Along Creditwest Bank, the festival was sponsored by Girne American University and North Cyprus Turkcell, with additional support from the likes of Kibris Media Group, BRT and Pegasus Airlines.

Güzelpınar ended by acknowledging the teething problems at the inaugural festival and thanked the Festival’s sponsors, organising team and filmmakers for their efforts: “During our first year we experienced many amazing things, but also some difficulties and problems. As the GIIFF team, we have learnt from our experience and we will work on creating an even better Festival for next year. We firmly believe that through cinema, you can realise your dreams.”


First Golden Island International Film Festival gets underway with screening of Fish, 6 November 2014

Tamer Hassan helps launch new Cyprus film festival, 29 May 2014

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