Documentary maker Kay Pavlou is set to unveil her latest project this coming July in line with the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, spreading a positive image of the Cypriot migrant story ahead of the milestone of one of the country’s darkest moments in history.

Pavlou’s upcoming documentary titled ‘Two Homelands’ is an exploration of the migrant and refugee experience of the Cypriots that chose Australia as their home, which is what inspired the name of the film.

“It will premiere on 14 July at the Cyprus Club of South Australia before being screened on 20 July (the date of the Turkish invasion) at the Cyprus Club of NSW (with it to then be screened in Adelaide cinemas in early August).

Pavlou explained that the idea for the documentary arose last year when she raised it at the Cyprus Club of NSW as a project to release in line with what she called the “50th black anniversary”.

“I wanted to do something positive for the community,” she told Neos Kosmos.

“I knew they community would be very angry and upset. Making a documentary and having a screening would be an occasion to bring people together to be able to express complex emotions. I did not find any funding, but I was determined to make it.”

She found six Greek Cypriot Australian elders aged 70-102 to hear their story of Cyprus and their migration to Australia, stating the film is “both a rally cry against the Turkish invasion and a celebration of long-life survival”.

The project has personal significance for the filmmaker as she has family who remained in Cyprus under Turkish occupation.

“Both my grandparents and my uncle (my father’s brother) refused to leave during the Turkish invasion of 1974,” she said.

“They were part of the 600 Greeks, who became known as ‘the enclaved’. They lost all their land, lived inside their houses with their animals and the Turkish Police patrolling their every move.”

Pavlou elaborated further on how the United Nations protected their basic human rights but if they left their house for longer than a week, a Turkish person would occupy it.

“We used to visit them at the border where they could come for half an hour via a Red Cross bus. They never gave up their homes until they died, up to 40 years later,” she said.

“I swore to myself that I would tell their story. This is the second documentary I am making that includes their story.”

The Adelaide-born filmmaker revealed that her work on this project began last October, with her forced to take on almost every role to make it.

Kay Pavlou. Photo: Supplied

“Because it is self-funded, I have done almost everything myself – camera, sound, producer, director, writer and researcher. It is both exhausting and satisfying,” she said.

“I have a fabulous editor who is saving my life, John Mandoukos, who is Greek and 15% Cypriot.”

Pavlou interviewed all six of the elders in Greek, having been introduced to some through the Cyprus Club of NSW and already known of others, one of which is her 97-year-old father in Adelaide.

She revealed that of these six, three had migrated after World War II while the other three are 1974 refugees.

“One of the interviewees, Jim David, now 80, has been an extraordinary activist, petitioning the United Nations and the American Congress on the ‘Cyprus Problem’,” she said.

“Evripidis Mouxouris, 102, remembers volunteering to fight the Fascists in Italy in 1943. Stella Papavasiliou was pregnant when the invasion occurred, two days later her fiancé was killed.”

Their stories left a profound impact on Pavlou, who admitted that she is very inspired by what they all went through.

“They have endured so much, whether as migrants working three jobs to get ahead, or losing everything during the invasion and starting again. They all retain their generosity of spirit and good humour,” the filmmaker said.

She noted that they all had a strong sense of determination to make a successful life for themselves in Australia, though also stressed that the 1974 refugees understandably arrived with more grief than the post-WWII migrants.

“The documentary is history as witnessed by those who have lived it. Given the highs and lows of long lives, it is emotional but also informative in terms of history.”

Pavlou also talked about another project she hopes to make this year, a scripted feature drama film later this year drama titled ‘My Land’, with her being assisted by Andreas Christopher (A Greek Musical Odyssey, 89.3 2GLF) in raising funds for it.