June 8, 2023

By Heidi Trautmann….

Screening of the peace-building documentary ‘OLIVIA’ by Mine Balman at the Dome Hotel in Girne on 31 March 2023

“Olivia is a bridge between the past and the future, a future at peace with negative experiences.”

The ‘Girne Düşünce Derneği’ … Girne Thought Association …invited ‘asi.Production’ to show their latest documentary ‘Olivia’ directed by Mine Balman.

Before I speak about the event, I would like to explain in short the background of the two associations coming together for the screening which seems important to me.

The host ‘Girne Düşünce Derneği’ is a cultural association with the purpose to defend human values, human rights and humanist norms and thereby to defend peace in Cyprus and in the world by making determinations about education problems and suggesting solutions …

The ‘asi.Production’ is an initiative to blend collective memory and cinema with the purpose to make people in conflict areas understand each other better and thus as a peace-building measure.

I had asked Mine Balman at the event to give me her interpretation of the film she directed: “The story in Olivia is the story of Cypriots. A story where people from different generations who come to the screenings can find similarities in the emotions and experiences in their own lives. Usually, when we think of inter-communal friendships and cooperation we always remember the ones before the division. The story of Olivia is a good example of friendship, solidarity, and love which started after the crossings opened. It is a very good example for us that although we were told that we are enemies and we have to stay enemies, we can start loving each other and being friends. The story of Olivia is supposed to give us hope for our future”.

The story is of three women, Katie, the Greek Cypriot, becomes the adopted grandmother of Olivia, the daughter of Deniz, a Turkish Cypriot single parent. Katie who had traumatic experiences during the civil war between the two brother countries forms a friendship with the young single mother and her child from the other side, the enemy side; there are many differences between them, their upbringing, their social and religious background, but both the women are prepared to discover each other which supports a healing process from the pains they have suffered in their lifetime. Olivia, the daughter with an eye problem, adopts Katie as grandmother and with her innocent young years becomes the bridge between past and future and represents a symbol for possible peace and understanding.

I was interested to know more about the background of the director of the documentary, Mine Balman and her motive to create documentaries of difficult and still not solved problems of Cyprus, she gave me her story:

“I am not a professional filmmaker. Education-wise, I completed a short film-making certificate course at the London Film Academy in 2005 before returning to Cyprus from my University studies. Since 2006, I have been involved in the production of many documentaries and short film projects. Everything I did so far was all zero-budget projects. I am not receiving any funding. I am doing this to contribute to peacebuilding and reconciliation. So, the people who are contributing to the projects are all volunteers who devoted themselves to peace.

I believe that audio-visual productions are strong tools to make people think, question, and confront the past. It helps to think outside of the stereotyped understanding.

In 2014, we initiated ‘asi.Production’. It is an initiative to blend collective memory and cinema. In post-conflict areas, recording human narratives, archiving the collective memory, and transferring them to future generations, is important. The collective memories will bring the communities of Cyprus together and create reconciliation!

It aims to produce against inequalities, injustice, labour exploitation, racism, social and class differences, gender-based and all types of discrimination, official history, and cultural assimilation. It also aims to open a window to the future by bringing together production, culture, history, and our today. While putting forward its steps, it aims to activate the collective memory, reveal the traces of the past, and explain to everyone living on our tiny island that we can live together!

In Girne, at the Dome Hotel, it was Olivia”s tenth screening. Outside Cyprus, Olivia was screened at festivals in UK, Poland, and Spain. We organised the first two screenings and the rest of them were organised by groups and organisations who are in favour of peace. They are inviting us to make public or closed group screenings.

I would like to mention another project I did before “Beyond History Education” which we started screenings in November 2021. So far, we have done 26 screenings and reached more than 1500 people in different cities. I was also selected for screening at festivals in Europe, UK, and Cyprus” End of Mine Balman’s story.

After the show, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions to the two associations, the director, and also the ‘three women in Olivia’s story’. It was greatly commented on and discussed. My congratulations to all who were involved, may their initiative help to find a final and satisfactory solution without making one side smaller than the other and without regarding their religions as a separating sword, and let us be honest, both these religions are based on the same history.

To see more pictures please visit my Facebook page

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