Μarios Piperides’ debut feature Smuggling Hendrix comes to the 25th Delphi Bank Greek Film Festival with numerous accolades, including winning the Best International Feature Film at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
As well as being awarded $20,000, the jury, which included Goodfellas star Ray Liotta, praised Smuggling Hendrix “for its unique, comedic exploration of a complicated, absurd political situation told in a clear, personal and compelling way”.
Piperides revealed that he not only felt great pride and satisfaction, but also was astonished that his film, which came up against 9,000 entrants from around the world, came out on top.
“The award came totally unexpected. It was a big shock at the beginning,” he told Neos Kosmos from Cyprus.
“We were just happy to have the film make it in the 10 features and that for us was good enough. So, of course, we were excited. Cyprus only makes two to three feature films a year, maximum. So, we’re competing with films and countries like Germany that make 200 films. Afterwards the film got more promotion, and more interest from distributors. So, it was really important to have received the award in a big festival like Tribeca.”
Smuggling Hendrix has been described as a metaphor for political and social life on both sides of the Cypriot divide. The film is told from the viewpoint of struggling musician Yiannis played by Adam Bousdoukos whose dog runs away into Turkish Nicosia and follows his comical attempts to retrieve him.
Piperides was born in 1975, just one year after Turkey invaded northern Cyprus on 20 July, 1974. The Nicosia-born director revealed that he wrote the film to show the absurdity of the imaginary green line, which has divided Greek Cypriots and their Turkish neighbours for 44 years.
“Of course, it is tragic what is happening and what happened,” he says.
“This division has been going on for too long; it’s half a century without really moving forward. We are at the same place we were 10 years ago. People want to live together and come together. We’re one country, we’re similar people. We just have this absurdity of this small island being divided in two. It cannot go on like this. I grew up with the Cyprus problem, I lived through the different stages. We really need to find a solution.”
How the anti-war film cleverly highlights the absurdity of living in a divided capital is by having the protagonist Yiannis form an alliance with Turkish Cypriots Hasan (Fatih Al) and Tuberk (Özgür Karadeniz).
Together with his ex-girlfriend they hatch a plan to cross the border into occupied Turkey in an attempt to smuggle Hendrix back home and into the Greek Cypriot side.
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