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The Making of BLUEFIRE: Artistic Catharsis on the Island of Cyprus
by Eliana Papanicolaou and Theo Couloumbis
We follow a Greek Cypriot American boy, Theo (played by Theo Couloumbis), who is raised by his grandmother (played by Calliopi Toufidou) in the States. Their relationship is nothing less than warm and funny. His parents have been missing for 25 years. Soon, Theo finds himself alone when his grandmother passes away from stomach cancer. This aspiring doctor spirals into a depressed, vegetated state. His grandmother leaves a will suggesting he uses the money to meet his family in Cyprus, and to learn and love where his parents came from. While in Cyprus, Theo meets Afroditi (played by Eliana Papanicolaou), an anthropologist and excavator of the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP). She illuminates Theo on the culture and history of the island concerning the events and repercussions of the Turkish invasion in 1974. Though her undying passion is to help the people of Cyprus locate and identify their loved ones, she herself faces her own personal troubles. Theo and Afroditi’s stories turn into casual conversations about bigger themes in life- especially the politics and principles of the human condition. Their personal conflicts and electric relationship empowers them to make a change bigger than themselves; one that will honor a message of peace and cooperation within a unified Cyprus.
We are all learning so much as we go along, not only about ourselves but also about Cyprus and its beautiful, diverse people. Eliana’s father and his family are refugees from the city of Ammochostos in Northern Cyprus. Her mother and her family are from Pyla, Larnaca, the only village still shared by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. Though she has personal ties to heart of the matter, Co-Writer/Co-Director/actor, Theo Couloumbis and Cinematographer, Sofia Moustahfid, are just as invested in the emotional, physical, sociopolitical, and geographic turmoil Cyprus continues to endure. BLUEFIRE hits home for all of us because the “Cyprus Problem” is not just a problem in Cyprus. The actors involved in negotiation extend beyond the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot civilians and their governments. Similar injustices have been committed and continue to manifest themselves in the world today. The majority of the international community is unfamiliar of the Cyprus issue, though it is a prime testimony of man’s natural will to trump covetous interest and power with their right to freedom and justice. We hope that an entertaining movie starring and created by young people will inspire our generation to be the ones to finally end oppression and move towards a reunified Cyprus.
Art and War have always rivaled their way through time. Our team believes war is merely a phase and that art- which arises from it- will live on in perpetuity. Though idealistic, it is a goal that drives our team to keep poised and sensitive among the lives we are portraying. Since its birth, the Theatre has not only been a mode of entertainment. The Ancient Greeks considered it a political duty to attend the Theatre; a place where one derived moral lessons and commentary on current events. However, lately it seems as though it is all about flashy lights and money, and less about creating something with a message that affects people and makes them think. We must use the ancient classical ideals to inform our present and future selves, to make people feel again, and spark intelligent conversation that could possibly lead to change. BLUEFIRE will be a return to the roots of performing arts: exploring the importance of rule of law, absolute human rights, morals, and self-discovery. We hope our film will be widespread and seen by many so our message can be heard.
I had a 30 minute break. The breeze was just right that day. No cloud in the sky, yet the air was cool enough to keep me awake. Rocking back and forth, the front porch became my world. The back of my script became my canvas. I was on set for the film Bright, a story about two women fighting to survive an epidemic disease that hit their region. I was working and living with people who all wanted to produce something amazing, something bigger than their own person. I don’t know if it was the breeze that day or the fact I didn’t have wi-fi, but whatever it was, I let myself go. I’d never written before. Till now I had performed what was written for me. I told myself “just let yourself write what your heart wants” and that feeling turned into thoughts. My thoughts turned into words. My words hummed where my heart lied. It was Cyprus. I wanted to create something real, but imagine the close to impossible. My team would be personal, pioneering, and most importantly, my family. The story took on many morphs and evolved with every touch we gave it. It started out as an foreign exchange student flick, then onto a loungy foreign film, and now it is closer to a piece of work that is just, us. – Eliana Papanicolaou – Co-Writer, Co-Director, Actor
Though we are in the early stages of production, we can already see the natural chemistry we all share with one another. BLUEFIRE has become our child. We nurture it by reminding ourselves the original objective we are working towards: to create a reaction through our art. Every time we are together it feels like a rehearsal, though we are not always rehearsing. The characters in this film are based on our true charismas, and so they resonate in our day to day affairs. We all feel incredibly lucky and inspired to be able to collaborate with such creative and ambitious artists. The more we develop the storyline, the more aware we are that BLUEFIRE is something we will be incredibly proud of, and a presentation that people will relate to and enjoy along with us.
This project began as three friends coming together to do what they love, but it has quickly turned into something much bigger than what we ever expected. In this time we keep our minds focused on the vision we originally had; a film that will not only educate people about the severed situation in Cyprus, but will also inspire people to make changes in their own lives; whether those changes are on a large, political scale like in this film, or on a smaller, more personal level in our viewers’ lives. We believe BLUEFIRE will prompt people to react, feel, and make positive impacts in their lives they never imagined were possible.