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Two war-torn communities in Cyprus reunite after 44 years of division by pursuing a shared dream to turn an occupied ghost town into a thriving ecocity.
Waking Famagusta provides a historic snapshot of one of the most conflict-ridden regions in Europe, revealed through a mother-daughter story of ancestral awakening and the birth of an international urban revival movement.
The district of Varosha in the city of Famagusta, is located on the northeastern coast of Cyprus, a divided island. Following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and subsequent evacuation of Famagusta by its Greek-Cypriot residents, the Turkish army surrounded six square kilometers of the Varosha tourist district in barbed wire and has held it as a ghost town since. As the residents fled in haste, they left laundry hanging on the lines and half cooked rice on the stove. Forty-four years later, Varosha remains a shell of a once vibrant community; a mere bargaining chip for Turkey's negotiations with Cyprus. Its crumbling buildings are guarded by armed troops to this day, as its aging citizens continue to await a return home.
One of these people is 68-year-old Emily Markides, whose home remains inaccessible today. In 2003, her daughter Vasia, captivated by her mother's stories of her birthplace, decided to travel to the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus in an adventure that would prove to be life-changing. The film follows Vasia's decade-long fixation with this ghost town, and the unexpected turn of events that followed. The Famagusta Ecocity Project was born, inspired by Emily's lifelong dream to one day see her hometown revived as a model ecocity. Waking Famagusta follows this team of Greek and Turkish-Cypriots who attempt to undo over four decades of animosity and division through a groundbreaking effort for ecology, peace and urban revival at the crossroads of three continents.
Vasia Markides - Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor: Director of Waking Famagusta and Founder/Director of The Famagusta Ecocity Project; A painter originally, Vasia completed her first documentary short in 2008. Hidden in the Sand is a chronicle of her mother’s hometown under Turkish occupation, which is now off limits within the six square kilometer fenced off abandoned district of Varosha. Hidden in the Sand has screened in venues and festivals across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, France and Portugal. As a media maker, Vasia has worked with clients such as Oxfam America, Global Nomads Group and other human rights organizations. After launching the Famagusta Ecocity Project and directing a documentary about the effort, her team’s work gained worldwide media attention (CNN, BBC, Associated Press, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, National Geographic, Boston Globe, ABC News, U.S. News & World Report, TedX Limassol & more). In addition to working on her personal projects, she freelances as a filmmaker and video producer mostly in Maine, New York City and Cyprus.
Maria Stylianou - Producer: An independent film and media producer for fifteen years, Maria has worked on award winning films Stratos, Blunder of Bleeding Land (Doc), Semele, Dorothea, and The Palace (Academy Nomination Selection). She has worked with international media companies such as Discovery, History, Showtime, Konami, Bloomberg, iTv, Polsat, and BBC. Maria is also an active member and advocate of women and mothers in the film industry. Her most thrilling experience was riding a British Army Helicopter during a BA TVC filming, and producing two TEDx events in Cyprus.
Erika Sutter - Editor: Erika Sutter has been editing film, television and commercial content for over fifteen years. She has created work for a range of broadcast networks, independent directors, non-profit organizations and musicians. Her editing has been recognized by The New York Times and The International Wildlife Film Festival as well as receiving a CINE Golden Eagle Award and an Emmy Nomination.
Christina Lenis - Associate Producer: Christina Lenis is a documentary film/television producer. Her work has appeared on a variety of networks, both nationally and internationally, including SHOWTIME, PBS, History Channel and National Geographic. Show credits include: FRONTLINE’s Emmy-award nominated, “Middle School Moment”, SHOWTIME’s, Emmy-award nominated, “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth”, and History Channel’s “Brad Meltzer’s Lost History”, in which Ms. Lenis was part of the team that recovered the infamous 9/11 flag, raised by firefighters at Ground Zero. She is based in NYC, however is a die-hard Red Sox fan.
Armando Garma-Fernandez - Motion Graphics: Co-founder of the Famagusta Ecocity Project; Architect, Educator, and Visual Artist who is preoccupied with the environment and the construction of energy conscious infrastructure. His architecture experience focuses on renovation, restoration, adaptive reuse and the socially responsible use of resources. He also freelances as a motion graphics creator, animator, and editor. https://vimeo.com/user12416572; www.ecocityproject.com