FNE Market Analysis 2019: CYPRUS

    Smuggling Hendrix by Marios Piperides Smuggling Hendrix by Marios Piperides

    The Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (MECSY) made great efforts in 2019 to expand the country’s activities in various aspects concerning cinema, including film production, film education and film festivals.

    The first international film exclusively shot in Cyprus using the 35% film incentive scheme, which was launched in 2018, was Jiu Jitsu directed by Dimitris Logothetis and starring Nicolas Cage. The film successfully completed shooting on the island in August 2019.


    Despite the low budget for film production in Cyprus, which is related with the years prior to the financial crisis, the Cultural Services of the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth supported a significant number of films: seven fiction low-budget feature films in development, nine fiction feature films in screenwriting and 13 short films in production.

    Among the feature films completed in 2019 there is Siege on Liperti Street directed by Stavros Pamballis and produced by Cypriot Med Focus, which is part of Green Olive Films, and Argonauts from Greece.

    Patchwork, a fiction film directed by Petros Charalambous and produced by Cypriot AMP Filmworks in coproduction with Boo productions from Greece and Transfax Film Productions from Israel also completed shooting in Cyprus in 2019.

    The feature film SOS – Survive or Sacrifice directed by Roman Doronin and produced by Altadium Group started shooting on 10 June 2019. The project also benefits from the new film incentive scheme.

    The short historical documentary Kinyras, directed by Stavros Papageorgiou and produced by Tetraktys Films, was also completed in 2019.

    The short films completed in Cyprus in 2019 are Off Guard directed by Dainas Papadaki, Dragon Recipes directed by Maria Pavlou, Scratch directed by Paris Erotokritou, The Hunt directed by Soleh Zahraei and Kamil Saldun, and Peanuts from Aegina directed Pause by Tonia Mishialiby Savvas Stavrou.

    During 2019 until the beginning of February 2020 the following short films were either in the shooting or postproduction phase: The Little Hunter directed by Dinos Grigoriou, Omorfi Mera directed by Christos Nikolaou, Betrayal directed by Katiana Zahariou, Zitate Na Sas Po directed by Paris Prokopiou, Afemaksi directed by Anna Photiadou, Taxi directed by Constantinos Nikiforou, A Summer Place directed by Alexandra Mattheou, DT directed by Pari El Sait and Faros directed by Costas Chrysanthou.  

    The short animated films H Gynaika me tous Papaggalous directed by Michalis Kalopedis and Lihnafis directed by Giorgos Tsaggaris were also in production in 2019.

    All the above mentioned short films where financially supported by the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth.

    Three feature films have completed their development phase and are expected to start shooting in 2020. H Kilada Ton Rodon directed by Christoforos Roditis and produced by Cypriot Transvideo in coproduction with Cypriot Roll Out Services and Film Blades, Monokatoikia directed by Ioakim Milonas and produced by Cypriot Yannis Economides Films in coproduction with Greek Argonauts and IMAN directed by Kyriakos Tofarides and Korina Avramidou and produced by Cypriot Α. Β. Seahorse Film productions.

    One of the most important achievements in 2018 was the Council of Minister’s approval of the Cyprus film incentive scheme, run by Invest Cyprus – CIPA (Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency) with an annual budget of 25 m EUR (1.5 m EUR initially). The efforts of the local film industry were directed at attracting foreign productions aiming to shoot in Cyprus.

    The scheme provides Cypriot and foreign producers cash rebates and/or tax credits of up to 35% on qualifying production expenditures and it also provides tax allowances of 20% for investment in infrastructure and equipment on the Island.

    “This development is crucial for the growth of the Cypriot audiovisual industry, but also for the Cypriot economy as a whole, since it is a significant investment with multiple benefits that will promote our country worldwide,” said a statement of the Initiative of Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency – Film in Cyprus (Invest Cyprus).

    The first feature film shot under the new incentives programme was Jiu-Jitsu directed by Dimitris Logothetis and produced by Martin J. Barab and Dimitri Logothetis through the U.S Acme Rocket Fuel. The film starring Nicolas Cage and also Jeannine Kaspar, Jiu Jitsu by Dimitri LogothetisMarianna Rosset, Zach Rose, Christopher Greco and Tony Jaa, was picked up by Highland Film Group (HFG). The film is expected to reach cinemas in more than 40 countries in March 2020.

    Jiu-Jitsu is a test-drive film through which Invest Cyprus intends to prove the scheme’s efficiency, aiming to place Cyprus on the international filming map and to consequently attract more big Hollywood and other foreign productions.

    According to the pre-certificate issued by Invest Cyprus, 8.5 m EUR is the expected amount of cash-rebate for the producers of Jiu-Jitsu. This amount was approved by the Parliament at the end of 2019, after a heated discussion among its MPs, questioning the efficiency of the scheme and its benefits for the Island. The House of Parliament also approved the 25 m EUR scheme budged for 2020, while waiting for the closing and cross-checking of the audited accounts of Jiu-Jitsu by the Ministry of Finance.

    A lot of Hollywood, Bollywood and European producers have expressed a vivid interest in filming in Cyprus. Hollywood producers visited Paphos in the summer of 2019 and declared their interest in the possibility of a film studio being built in this city.

    Kayvan Mashayek, the International Chairman of the Producers Guild of America, Oscar-winning producer Mark Foligno, Nasos Vakalis, EMMY award winner for animation/special effects, and Demetris Anagnostou, CEO of Los Angeles-based Declare Productions, met with Papho’s Mayor Phedon Phedonos and expressed their interest in shooting in Cyprus, particularly in Paphos.

    “International filmmakers, especially Hollywood producers had been eyeing Cyprus for filming as a result of the Cyprus Filming Scheme. However, the producers themselves said Cyprus has a lot more to offer”, said Phedon Phedonos, Mayor of Paphos, quoted by the Cypriot outlet Financial Mirror.


    The Cypriot/Greek coproduction The Siege on Liberty Street by the Cypriot writer/director Stavros Pamballis won five awards at the 60th Thessaloniki IFF: the Audience Fischer Award, the FIPRESCI Prize, the Greek Film Critics Association Award and two ERT S.A. (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation) awards. The film was produced by Med Focus, which is a part of Green Olive Films based in Greece and Cyprus and Argonauts Productions (Greece).

    Marios Piperides’s Smuggling Hendrix, produced by Cypriot AMP Filmworks, Germany’s Pallas Film and Greece’s Viewmaster Films, in coproduction with ZDF/Arte, was the unsurprising winner of the national competition, the Audience Award and the Special Student Jury award at the 17th Cyprus Film Days International Festival, which concluded on 20 April 2019. The film also opened the festival. Udo Kier chaired the jury and received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The closing ceremony was held at the Rialto Theatre, which also organised the festival along with the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth.

    Smuggling Hendrix was also nominated in five award categories of the Hellenic Film Academy Awards and won the 1st award in the Screenplay category.

    In January 2019 it was announced that Marios Piperides’ comedy became available on in-flight entertainment of Emirates. Since its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film was selected for more than 25 festivals and received several awards.

    Tonia Mishiali’s Cypriot/Greek coproduction Pause / Pafsi, produced by Cypriot A.B. Seahorse Film Productions in coproduction with Greek Soul Productions and Authorwave, was among the five feature films and six documentaries announced by the European Film Academy as additional candidates for an EFA nomination. The film was also announced as recipient of the best film award by the Greek Film Critics Association.

    Clementine, a feature film directed by Longinos Panagi and produced by Roll-Out Visions Services Ltd, Giorgos Pantazis and Monica Nikolaidou, in coproduction with Cyprus Cinema Advisory Committee (Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus), Siege on Liperti Street by Stavros Paballis, credit: thessaloniki iffFilmBlades Ltd and Longinos Panagi, was nominated for best film at the Firenze FF.

    Soteris Christou, the director of Small White Envelopes (produced by Out of Focus Ltd) won the Best Cypriot Director award, while Antonis Katsaris received the Best Cypriot Actor prize for Small White Envelopes in the Cyprus Film Days-National Competition 2019.  

    During the 8th International Short Film Festival Cyprus, Wax and Feathers directed by Marios Lizides, won the first award for the Best Cypriot Film as well as Best Director. The second award went to Vaggelio Soumeli, the director of Tropical Dreams.

    In order to promote Cyprus as a filming destination, as well as for the promotion and screening of Cypriot films and coproductions, the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education, Culture in Cyprus held a booth at the International Short Film Festival in Drama (Greece), at the Thessaloniki, Cannes and Berlin film festivals and also at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

    Smuggling Hendrix directed by Marios Piperides (distributed by The Match Factory), Pause directed by Tonia Mishiali and produced by A.B. Seahorse Film Productions in coproduction with Soul Productions (distributed by A.B Seahorse Ltd), and Sunrise in Kimmeria, directed by Simon Farmakas and produced by FotoCine Studios Ltd (distributed by FotoCine ltd), were released in Cypriot cinemas in 2019.


    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 and Nicosia, and also the Pantheon cinema in Nicosia.

    Other small cinemas in the countryside 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 Friends of Cinema Society in Nicosia, Limassol Cinema Society and Larnaca Cinema Society.

    Admissions increased by 11.74% from 753,517 in 2018 to 842,038 in 2019, while the box office increased by 11.48% from 6,065,076 EUR in 2018 to 6,761,624 EUR in 2019, according to the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth.

    The market share of national films increased by 1.1 % in 2019.


    In April 2019, the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth allotted 4,484,000 EUR for the production of 10 low budget feature films and two documentaries in 2018-2019, on the recommendation of the Cinema Advisory Committee. The Ministry also allotted development grants totaling 309,080 EUR for the same projects, as well as production grants for short fiction, documentary and animated films, and also script development grants for high budget and low budget films. Three Cypriot minority coproductions received 330,000 EUR.

    SOS - Survive or Sacrifice by Roman DoroninClick HERE to see the grants chart.

    The South Eastern European Cinema Network (SEE) launched a contest for short fiction films in 2019. Exclusively national productions of SEE CINEMA member-states (Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Romania and Bulgaria) applied. The amount of funding rose up to 8,000-10,000 EUR per project.


    There are more than ten studios located in Cyprus and specialised in TV production. Local TV channels usually produce original comic and drama series, and also local sketches.

    The local TV channels are: Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC 1,2, HD and Sat), Sigma TVOmega TV, Ant1, Plus TV, Capital and Alpha TV.

    The most important new domestic series broadcast in 2019 were the fiction drama Galateia, directed by Costas Costopoulos and Paris Prokopiou, and produced by Sigma TV, and the romantic comedy Esy…ston kosmo sou directed by Vasos Vasou and produced by S.P.A.F Arts & Film Productions for Ant1.

    There are no local channels broadcasting only films.

    Smuggling Hendrix by Marios PiperidesCONTACTS:

    Cultural Services
    27 Ifigenias Street
    2007 Strovolos – Nicosia, Cyprus
    Phone: +357 22 809811/809812
    Fax: +357 22 809 873

    Report by Antigoni Tasiou (2020)
    Sources: the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth