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More Hollywood glitter for Olivewood

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Olivewood, Cyprus’ rebranded audiovisual industry, is again under the spotlight as yet another multi-million production aims to hit cinemas in early 2023 in a reputation boost.

The film The Islander, starring Agni Scott and multi-talented Harry Connick Jr, is currently in post-production, and producers hope to see it in cinemas in January.

According to film industry sources, The Islander is to become the most expensive Cypriot production, with producers waiting to show the world their work.

Calling the shots behind the camera is South African Cypriot Stelana Kliris.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Kliris said: “It’s the thrill of a lifetime to be making a movie with stars like Harry Connick Jr”.

“The Islander is an unprecedented production for Cyprus, with an amazing cast of actors, but the island is also the perfect setting for a romantic comedy and a feel-good film about human connection.

“I can’t wait to share this story and our island – known as the island of love – with the world,” said the director.

“One thing that needs to be said about this project is that none of this would have been possible without the contribution of the local authorities and the incentive scheme run by Cyprus and the support from the Deputy Ministry of Culture.”

The film is from Uinta Productions (Tommy’s Honour) and Kliris’ Cyprus-based Meraki Films, in association with Das Films (The November Man), with support from the Education Ministry and the Cyprus Film Commission’s incentives scheme.

“As a Cypriot project, with limited resources, the incentive scheme was key to putting together this film”, said Kliris

She hopes to see the scheme continue supporting Cypriot projects get off the ground while attracting film producers and facilitating big movie productions placing Cyprus on the world cinematic map.

More than just tax rebates

The Olivewood promotion drive has drawn the attention of industry professionals from across the globe.

On offer are tax rebates and credit breaks, with the most attractive incentive being a maximum 35% reimbursement for nearly all expenses made in Cyprus.

It covers hiring local filming crews, renting portable toilets, and recruiting animal actors.

The state scheme covers rebates worth €25 mln per year, with officials aiming to use the entire budget.

“But it’s not just about the scheme; it’s also about the support that we received from the government and authorities, who are very keen on developing the film industry in the country,” said Kliris.

She said Cyprus has more to offer than just tax rebates, as it is essentially an outdoor studio.

Filming took place entirely in Cyprus, specifically in the Peyia region and the capital, Nicosia.

Meraki Films produced the film with producers Keith Arnold, Steve Shapiro, and local production company Green Olive Films.

It has several projects in development, including Gizem, a period drama shot in Cyprus and South Africa, and My Name is Silly. The Ministry of Education funds both films.

The Islander is a romantic comedy and a feel-good movie about human connection featuring a strong element of music.

Apart from starring well-known international actors such as Harry Connick Jr, Agni Scott and Ali Fumiko Whitney, it includes an esteemed Cypriot cast of Tony Dimitriou, Lea Maleni and Angeliki Filippidou.

“The Cypriot element is particularly strong in this film since most of the team comes from Cyprus–our cast and crew who worked during the filming, and the crew currently working in post-production, are mostly from Cyprus”.

In comments to the media, Cyprus Invest, the state agency for attracting foreign investment overseeing the incentive scheme, welcomed the news that “The Islander”, “another international project, is close to making its premier”.

The Head of Invest Cyprus audiovisual department, Lefteris Eleftheriou, said: “In recent months, the interest of international producers in Cyprus has not only increased but has transformed into filming in various areas of the island.

“Both the producers, as well as the actors, are equally impressed by the natural landscapes of the country and the professionals available in the field.

“We are confident that soon we will see several more productions taking place in our country”.

The Islander joins a growing list of big film projects attracted by the incentive scheme to reboot the audiovisual industry.

It adds to the list of Jiu Jitsu, the first big filming projects starring Nicolas Cage, and other local productions such as S.O.S Survive or Sacrifice and The ghosts of Monday by Cypriot filmmakers Altadium.