“Cyprus is united with you”: Akamas

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“Cyprus is united with you”: Akamas
by Raquel GOMEZ for Shared Future News
24 April 2018

The second edition of Walled Cities screened the film Akamas in Queen’s Film Theatre, with the collaboration of CACity (Cinema and Architecture in the City) and Queen’s Culture and Society Research Cluster.

Walled Cities film season brings the screening of films where political conflict, division, and barriers are main elements.

Directed by Panicos Chrysanthou, Akamas showcases the island of Cyprus from the late Forties until the Seventies — a period marked by the division of the country — through the portrait of a love story of Omeris and Rhodou — two Cypriots divided by religion.

The film gathers 30 years of political upheaval, social and religious differences, in a careful and thoughtful manner. Small nuances reveal a complex situation of Cyprus, where British colonialism, the Ottoman Empire, and EOKA (a Greek-Cypriot nationalist guerrilla group), mixes with Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot identities, Orthodox and Muslim faiths, and the question of belonging.

A wide range of elements are represented by the figures of Omeris and Rhodou. In a background where the division and segregation were palpable, and mixed marriage was forbidden, Chrysanthou underlines the key role of love, mutual understanding and compromise. Love can be a powerful force to unify, overcoming intolerance and division.

“Long live love!” shouts the young Greek-Cypriot soldier from his posting, as he watches Omeris and Rhodou passionately embrace in the no-man’s land along the Green Line.

Following the screening, there was a discussion with Dr Evropi Chatzipanagiotidou (Anthropology, Queen’s University) and Dr M. Satish Kumar (Geography, Queen’s University), both introduced by Dr Gul Kacmaz Erk (Architecture, Queen’s University).

Chatzipanagiotidou started with a brief of the history of Cyprus during the 20th century, remarking the key role of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialism, as well as the development of the nationalism at this time. We learn about the collapse of the power-sharing arrangement, the inter-communal violence and military action. The island and its people are displaced and physically separated, to varying degrees of willingness.

In terms of conflict, Chatzipanagiotidou highlighted that each conflict has its owns particularities. Whereas Northern Ireland is often presented as “post-conflict”, Cyprus is called “the frozen conflict”.

Kumar said that with partition things don’t disappear in terms of the culture and the heritage; both remain as a human aspect of people who once lived together. Here he spoke from personal experience of the aftermath of the India-Pakistan division. Kumar emphasised that is crucial to be able to celebrate the shared traditions and culture “that can bring us together”.

Partition emphasises difference between “us” and “them”. Akamas shows partition from another perspective, through the union of two persons came from different sides of the division.

When Omeris’ friend tells him that he and his family are reluctantly leaving the village, Omeris asks him to stay. His friend replies, “No, it is different with you and Rhodou. Cyprus is united with you.”

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