CULTURE

Grandfather?s story inspires Cypriot director

Most people have some sort of dream or aspiration that they pursue in life. This is the case of the main character in the short film ?The Fiddler.? Written and directed by Stelana Kliris, the film is based on a true story and is set in Cyprus in the first half of the 20th century.

Kliris, a Greek Cypriot born in South Africa, started out her career in journalism. Speaking of her transition to filmmaking, she told Kathimerini English Edition, ?Film has always been my first love, but when I was studying in South Africa, a proper film school had not been established yet, so I ended up studying journalism, which was the next best thing for me and which I also really like.?

As a journalist, Kliris worked on a variety of projects and directed two documentaries — one based on the Olympic Truce and the other on subcultures in South Africa. When she moved into filmmaking she began as an editor, progressed to production, and now writes and directs.

?The Fiddler? is based on a story told to the director by her grandfather. When describing who the story was about, Kliris said: ?It was his story. He always wanted to become a fiddler; to do that he had to have his own fiddle and life just kept on getting in the way of that — he got married, he had children, and he had to keep putting it aside.?

Explaining the circumstances surrounding how she learned of the story, Kliris said, ?Before [her grandfather] passed, he had to have his leg amputated from the knee down.? This stirred up memories of when his leg was injured when he was a young man and inspired him to tell her the story.

Kliris elaborated that her grandfather ?had this accident with his leg when he was very young. He had to go to Athens for an operation and [at the time] they were very poor and the village put money together to send him over. On his way back he had a little bit of money left over and he ended up buying another instrument similar to the fiddle, which he found at a vintage store.?

Much more than just a short film, ?The Fiddler? is a product of Kliris?s family history and hard work while having also served as an important learning experience for her. She explained that the production process went smoothly because they were really well prepared. ?We had a small crew and very limited time to shoot. It was a six-day shoot and should have been eight days, but because we were really well prepared we made it [in six].?

Of all the things reinforced for her during the course of production, Kliris stressed that filmmaking ?is a collaborative process and it is all about the people you work with. The biggest thing is to surround yourself [with] people that you trust and people that are passionate about the project.?

?The Fiddler,? which was produced in conjunction with Green Olive Films, will be featured at the 8th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival on May 29.

Looking toward the future, Kliris said: ?Right now my next goal is to do a feature film; a short film is always a sort of steppingstone toward making a full feature-length film and that is what I am working on at the moment. I have completed the script and, hopefully, if all goes well, I will be shooting by the end of next year, that is the next goal.?

When describing her next film, the director said that ?it is a contemporary comedy based in Cyprus. It?s a cross between ?The Devil Wears Prada? and ?My Big Fat Greek Wedding.? It is a comedy that incorporates a lot of the little unique things that make Cyprus what it is.?

Most people have some sort of dream or aspiration that they pursue in life. This is the case of the main character in the short film ?The Fiddler.? Written and directed by Stelana Kliris, the film is based on a true story and is set in Cyprus in the first half of the 20th century.

Kliris, a Greek Cypriot born in South Africa, started out her career in journalism. Speaking of her transition to filmmaking she told Kathimerini English Edition ?film has always been my first love, but when I was studying in South Africa, at the time, a proper film school had not been established yet, so I ended up studying journalism, which was the next best thing for me and which I also really like.?

As a journalist, Kliris worked on a variety of projects and directed two documentaries — one based on the Olympic Truce and the other on subcultures in South Africa. When she moved into ?¬?lmmaking she began as an editor, progressed to production, and now writes and directs.

?The Fiddler? is based on a story told to the director by her grandfather. When describing who the story was about, Kliris said: ?It was his story. He always wanted to become a fiddler, to do that he had to have his own fiddle and life just kept on getting in the way of that, he got married, he had children, and he had to keep putting it aside.?

Explaining the circumstances surrounding how she learned of the story, Kliris said, ?Before [her grandfather] passed, he had to have his leg amputated from the knee down.? This stirred up memories of when his leg was initially injured as a young man and inspired him to tell her this story.

Kliris elaborated that her grandfather ?had this accident with his leg when he was very young. He had to go to Athens for an operation and [at the time] they were very poor and the village put money together to send him over. On his way back he had a little bit of money left over and he ended up buying another instrument similar to the fiddle, which he found at a vintage store.?

Much more than just a short film, ?The Fiddler? is a product of Kliris?s family history and hard work while having also served as an important learning experience for her. She explained that the production process went smoothly because they were really well prepared. ?We had a small crew and we had very limited time to shoot. It was a six-day shoot and should have been eight days, but because we were really well prepared we made it [in six].?

Of all the things reinforced for her during the course of production, Kliris stressed that filmmaking ?is a collaborative process and it is all about the people you work with. The biggest thing is to surround yourself [with] people that you trust and people that are passionate about the project.?

?The Fiddler,? which was produced in conjunction with Green Olive Films, will be featured at the 8th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival on May 29.

Looking toward the future, Kliris said: ?Right now my next goal is to do a feature film; a short film is always a sort of steppingstone toward making a full feature-length film and that is what I am working on at the moment. I have completed the script and, hopefully, if all goes well, I will be shooting by the end of next year, that is the next goal.?

When describing her next film, the director said that ?it is a contemporary comedy based in Cyprus. It?s a cross between ?The Devil Wears Prada? and ?My Big Fat Greek Wedding.? It is a comedy that incorporates a lot of the little unique things that make Cyprus what it is.?