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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Secret of Stones

The Stones of FamagustaPurportedly founded in the 11th century BC, the ancient city of Famagusta, in Cyprus, has become the subject of a documentary that has had the chance to be aired at an international film festival in America.

Made by the Famagusta based company Black Dog Media, the seventy minute film follows the history of the city of Famagusta, as told through its remarkable historical architecture. It's the brain child of two people who have worked together for a period of 18 months to bring a new insight into the history of the architecture of my birthplace from Medieval to Ottoman times.

Famagusta has been elected to the World Monuments Fund's 100 Most Endangered Architecture sites for 2008.

A Documentary of Stones

Working on "The Stones of Famagusta", Dan Frodsham, and Alan Langdale spent hours in research from talking to people who know the city well and who can remember tales from an oral tradition, to digging into archives (a rich bounty of which was found in a Californian university) to bring new facts and facets of history of the buildings previously unseen and unknown.

While Langdale hosts the documentary, Frodsham is a freelance television producer and director, and is married to a Turkish Cypriot. It was a holiday romance that stood the test of time, and they both wish to spend their future in Cyprus, which is why Dan has set up the company and is hoping that this film will be the springboard into many other productions which will enable him to make his life in Cyprus full time.

Both gentleman have been exploring the old city for several years, and it is through the stories of locals that they 'found' and explored an Ottoman tunnel near the Lions Gate – this being just one of the new insights into the known history of this most important city and port on the shores of the Mediterranean.

In the documentary, viewers follow Langdale on his ramshackle bicycle as he retraces the discoveries made from the ancient walled city. The magnificent churches and ruins of this once famed city is explored, viewers are allowed to break into tunnels and bastions in the city walls as well as go into mysterious abandoned underground churches carved from rock. It's an architectural adventure in a forgotten city that was once legendary.

Sponsorship came from abroad

A small pilot film made in 2006 enabled them to obtain sponsorship to make the film. The main sponsor was a cultural foundation in America, the La Centra-Sumerlin Foundation, and now the Famagusta Municipality are enthusiastically supporting the project.

The makers of this film are very enthusiastic and hope that in the sharing this with the public it will add more stones to the wall of history that is being constantly uncovered and add to the richness of the culture of this island's nine thousand years of history.

Aired in America

Turning over old stones to find new secrets, the documentary has had the chance to be viewed in America at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The SBIFF is a film festival and non-profit organization, established in 1985, that showcases independent American and international films. It is regarded as one of the key events on the Hollywood calendar.

This year it hosted the ancient place of my birth and the secrets within its stones, too.

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Information in parts has been taken with kind permission from Marion Stuart's article for the Cyprus Observer, which can be accessed here.

Read more: About my life | About Cyprus >>

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