Heart in Cyprus, home in Australia: Kay Pavlou unveils new documentary on Cypriot migrants

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For Kay Pavlou, sharing stories about people’s lives, their upbringing and their struggles has always been something she’s passionate about.

With a career in writing, directing and producing dramas and documentaries spanning more than a decade, Kay said she has always loved shedding light on people’s stories.

“One of my biggest passions is the story of Cyprus. Both of my parents come from Cyprus, from a village that was occupied by Turkey in 1974,” Kay told The Greek Herald.

Kay Pavlou
The Cypriot director of Two Homelands, Kay Pavlou. Photo: Supplied.

“During the time that the village was occupied, a lot of my family, including my grandparents and one of my uncles, refused to leave, so they continued to live in Cyprus under occupation for about 40 years until they died. 

“To visit them, we had to meet them at the border and that left a really lasting impression on me, so I decided I wanted to find a way to share Cyprus’ story.”

The Adelaide-born Cypriot has previously produced Cyprus: A People Divided in 1990 and Ghost Town in 2022.

This year she is set to premiere her latest one-hour documentary called Two Homelands. It comes ahead of the 50th Anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus or as Kay calls it, “the black anniversary.”

Youla Yiannoukas
Youla Yiannoukasi is featured in the documentary.

“I was talking to SEKA, which is the Justice for Cyprus [organisation], as well as the Cyprus Club [in Sydney], and I told them I’d like to do something for the anniversary because it’s going to be very hard and people are going to be very angry and I wanted to create something positive,” Kay said.

“I decided to interview some of the older Greek Cypriots here in Australia and tell their story and make a documentary from the Australian/ Greek Cypriot point of view. 

“I interviewed six Greek Cypriot elders aged 70 to 102. Three of them came here after WWII in the ‘50s and three came in the ‘70s as refugees from the Turkish war.”

Kiriakos Vassilis
Kiriakos Vassilis is also featured in the documentary.

By putting all these people’s stories together, Kay said “it makes a very strong narrative for the history of Cyprus” and highlights the struggles and triumphs of being a migrant in Australia.

The documentary’s title, Two Homelands, also represents those Greek Cypriot migrants who describe their hearts as being in Cyprus, but their home as being in Australia.

“These migrants are torn between where they came from, and the place they’ve migrated to,” she explained.

“I really wanted to highlight this in the documentary. Being refugees, they went through so many struggles and experiences that are so difficult and confronting to talk about and they lost so much, so I felt like they needed their story to be told.”

Stella Papavasilliou
Stella Papavasilliou, another Greek elder featured in the documentary.

The professional director said she was very enthusiastic to be producing another documentary which sits closely to her heart.

“I’m absolutely driven to tell the story,” Kay said.

“It’s something that gets me very emotional, of course, but I thought, as my life has been all about learning the craft of telling stories, I could contribute in a way to help benefit the community by sharing these powerful and heartbreaking stories.

“I see what’s happening, I go to Cyprus very regularly, and the frustration that we feel, which is referred to as the Cyprus Problem, has not been resolved and if I can contribute at all to that, I will do my best.

Evripitis Mouxouris
Evripitis Mouxouris is 102 years old, and will feature in the documentary.

Kay said the documentary will be released and screened for the first time this year to mark the 20th of July black anniversary.

“It’s been nearly 50 years, and most people have forgotten about the situation in Cyprus,” Kay said.

“So, I’m hoping people will be able to come and watch the documentary and see that their story still matters, and it hasn’t been forgotten.”

The Cypriot director said she thinks it’s important to keep the Cypriot story alive and she aims to continue sharing these stories.

Jim David
Jim David is also in Two Homelands.

“I’m a good listener and I’ve always loved listening to people’s stories,” she said.

“When I listen to a story, I think of how I could bring that to life on a screen and it’s exciting for me. I just love being able to use platforms I love to give people a voice.”

The Cypriot director said that after Two Homelands, her next big project will be filmed in Cyprus and will premiere later in the year.

“It will be a drama featuring three generations of women growing up in the village where my parents came from, which was the only place where Greeks refused to leave,” Kay said.

“I’ve been obsessed with trying to turn that into a story. The drama will be released in the cinema too and it’s my most ambitious project yet and I can’t wait to bring it to life.”

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