NICOSIA: The Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus made great efforts in 2018 to expand the country’s activities in various aspects concerning the cinema, including film production, film education and providing incentives for foreign productions.
The biggest achievement is the Council of Ministers’ approval of a Scheme for a whole range of new incentives to attract international productions to the island and to boost its own small film industry. Incentives for local and international productions include a cash rebate and tax credits of up to 35%, tax discounts on investments made on equipment and infrastructure and other incentives. The scheme is run by CIPA (Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency).
Cypriot films won important awards at various international festivals abroad: Smuggling Hendrix by Marios Piperidis won the 1st Best Foreign Film Award at the Tribeca International Film Festival 2018, Sunrise in Kimmeria by Simon Farmakas won the 1st Best Newcomer Award at the 17th Debut Film Festival in St. Petersburg and Pause by Tonia Mishiali screened in competition of the Karlovy Vary IFF 2018 and won the Emerging Greek Directors' competition at the 4th Greek Film Festival - Hellas Filmbox in Berlin.
In 2018 the country hosted a number of international and national feature and short film festivals, the largest being Cyprus Film Days and the International Shor Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC).
Four feature films started shooting in 2018 and all of them are supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture: Brothers directed by Gianna Americanou and produced by Filmblades Ltd, The Man with Answers directed by Stelios Kammits and produced by Felony Films, and The Siege on Liberty Street directed by Stavros Pamballis and produced by Med Focus, which is a part of Green Olive Films.
Three feature films were completed in 2018: Pause directed by Tonia Mishiali and produced by A.B. Seahorse Film Productions in coproduction with Soul Productions and with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, the Greek Film Centre and the SEE Cinema Network; Clementine directed by Longinos Panayi and produced by Roll-Out Vision Services Ltd. in coproduction with Cypriot FilmBlades, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus; and Smuggling Hendrix directed by Marios Piperides and produced by AMP Filmworks, Germany’s Pallas Film and Greece’s Viewmaster Films in coproduction with ZDF/Arte and with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, MDM-Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Greek Film Center and Eurimages.
In October 2018 the Cyprus News Agency (CAN) reported that the new Cypriot company Screentale has signed an agreement with Robert De Niro’s company Tribeca Enterprises NY. CNA quoted Tribeca saying, “We are in exploratory conversations with Screentale about live entertainment events they are considering creating, to take place in Cyprus.” Tribeca came to Cyprus in November 2018, for meetings there.
In general, there are no worldwide distributors specialised in the distribution of domestic films and usually distribution of domestic films is done via the producer within Cyprus. In the case of coproductions, the release of the film in the respective coproducing countries is handled by either the coproducer or a local distributor.
Smuggling Hendrix, the debut feature by Marios Piperides, became one of the most acclaimed Cypriot films. It was selected for more than 25 international festivals and received several awards including Best International Narrative Feature at the 17th Tribeca Film Festival, New York, Bridging Borders - Honourable Mention Award at the 30th Palm Springs Int. Film Festival, Best First Feature Award at the 8th Québec City Film Festival, International Jury Special Mention at the 59th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Best Audience Award in the International Competition at the 10th Les Arcs Film Festival, France and Best Audience Award at the 9th Carbonia Film Festival, Italy.
Smuggling Hendrix was picked up by German sales agent The Match Factory.
Pause, directed by Tonia Mishiali, was awarded the FIPRESCI Award for best film and the ERT Award at the 2018 Thessaloniki IFF. The film also received the Film Union of Greece Award at the 2018 Athens Panorama of European Cinema and was screened in the East of the West Competition of the 2018 Karlovy Vary IFF.
Clementine by Longinos Panayi premiered at the Cyprus Film Days International Film Festival, running from 19 to 28 April 2018. Later the film was screened at Pantheon Cinema in Nicosia.
Sunrise in Kimmeria by Simon Farmakas won the Best Cypriot Film award at the Cyprus Film Days International Festival in 2018. The film was produced by FotoCine Studios Ltd.
The 16th Cyprus Film Days International Festival, an annual showcase of international and domestic films, was held in Nicosia and Limassol from 19 to 28 April 2018. Ten films competed in the Glocal Images programme and three in the national competition programme. The domestic films were made with the participation of the Cyprus Cinema Advisory Committee and were funded by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture through the Funding Programmes Regulation for the Support of Cinematographic Films.
The National Competition programme of the 8th International Short Film Festival of Cyprus showcased 19 films, which were automatically included in the international competition. The festival ran from 13 to 19 October 2018. More than 40 short films were submitted to the national competition programme, a number which was overwhelming compared to previous editions. The festival, which also had an international, student, documentary and music video competitions, is organised by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Rialto Theatre.
The 13th Cyprus International Film Festival Golden Aphrodite ran in Paphos from 23 June to 1 July 2018 with 18 films competing for the Golden Aphrodite in the Feature Film Competition. The festival is organised by the CINE@ART HQ & Programming Office under the auspices of the Municipality of Paphos.
The third Paphos International Film Festival (PIFF), running 22-24 June 2018, screened 19 international short films and 11 student films.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
The main exhibitor in Cyprus is K Cineplex, with two cinemas in Nicosia, one in Larnaca, one in Limassol and one in Paphos.
There is also the Rio Cinema in Limassol. The Pantheon in Nicosia has started to screen some mainstream as well as art house films.
Other small cinemas exist in the countryside and they screen various foreign and Cypriot films. In the main towns there are also various associations that function more like film clubs, generally showing European films, such as the Cinema Friends Society in Nicosia and Larnaca and the Pahos Cinema Society.
GRANTS AND NEW REGULATION
Cinema in Cyprus is governed by the Regulations for the Funding of Programmes to Support Cinematographic Films (2017-2020) under the Ministry of Education and Culture. According to the Regulations, low budget features may be funded by the ministry with up to 70% (in the category of difficult films) of their budget, to a total of 850,000 EUR.
The Ministry provides up to 595,000 EUR or a percentage of up to 70%, whichever is lower.
For high budget films there is no limitation on budget, but priority is given to films with a budget of up to 2,500,000 EUR. The ministry provides up to 850,000 EUR or up to 70%, depending on whichever is lower.
For script development, funding for a fiction film is up to 20,000 EUR, 7,000 EUR for a long documentary, up to 13,500 EUR of funding for a long animated film and up to 4,000 EUR for a short fiction film or short documentary.
The ministry’s funding participation in development is up to 35,000 EUR for a low budget feature, up to 45,000 EUR for a high budget feature and from 15,000 EUR to 35,000 EUR for documentaries and animated films of up to 60 or 90 min.
Continuing its efforts to encourage filmmakers in Cyprus, a country with a population of 850,000, the Ministry announced in 2016 that it would accept applications for a script development grant for low budget feature films and short films. The winners of the grants – amounting to 85,500 EUR for script development for low budget feature films and 239,000 EUR for short film production - which were put in place for the first time since 2013, were approved and contracts were signed in 2017. These include a total of 23 projects, of which 14 are short films.
The Cyprus Cinema Guild is extremely active in offering annual seminars and professional training to its members and to the public. Two institutions in Cyprus, the University of Nicosia and the Frederick Institute of Technology, offer programmes that have to do with education in the fields of media and audiovisual communication.
With the introduction of a 35% cash rebate programme in September 2018, Cyprus is poised to join its EU neighbours on the film production scene. Applications for the rebate programme are open to both film and TV projects with a minimum spend of 200,000 EUR and a cap of 1.5 m EUR. The rebate will apply to funds spent in Cyprus and is expected to increase domestic production, minority coproductions and production services on the island.
The incentives package was rolled out at the first Cyprus Film Summit, which was held in Nicosia from 9 to 12 October 2018. The event attracted over 100 producers, investors and other film professionals, who turned up to hear about what the island can offer as a shooting location.
Cypriot film director Tonia Mishiali told FNE: “We have great locations, great weather and film professionals who can be part of these productions. Foreign productions have been coming to Cyprus for years now but the tax incentives are another great reason for more productions to come.”
Mishiali, who is also the artistic director for Cyprus Film Days, added, "I work as a freelance producer/line producer as well and have worked on productions from Egypt, Lebanon and Dubai. As far as I know, productions from Belgium, France, Greece, Russia, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the UK, Sweden and many more countries have come here."
Application forms and more information about the scheme can be found on Film in Cyprus.
Approximately 70 international producers among a total of 120 film professionals attended the Cyprus Film Summit (9-12 October 2018). Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency invited producers from Bollywood, Hollywood and Pinewood along with a contingent of international representatives.
There are more than 10 studios located in Cyprus and specialised in TV production. Local TV channels usually produce original comic and drama series, and also local sketches.
Local TV channels are: Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC 1, 2, HD and Sat), Sigma TV, OMEGA (previously called TV One), Ant1, Plus TV, Capital and Alpha TV.
REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS – MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE Cultural Services 27 Ifigenias Street 2007 Strovolos – Nicosia, Cyprus Phone: +357 22 809 811 Fax: +357 22 809 873 http://filmingincyprus.gov.cy/ http://www.moec.gov.cy/en/
Report by Iulia Blaga (2019) Sources: the Ministry of Education and Culture