Exactly three years ago, I was in the middle of the first draft of Papadopoulos & Sons. And now for the first time in three years, I am not planning something for the film. For the first time in three years I have time on my hands. It has been relentless.
It’s odd to imagine that in those three years it was just 24 days of shooting. So much comes before and after you turn on a camera. I am sweetly exhausted – it’s a feeling you strive for in life. Sweet exhaustion! It’s the feeling that says I am alive and I have lived! It’s a combination of tiredness that comes with being relentless about something you feel passionate about and a sense of satisfaction that you did everything you could, at times exceeding the high expectations you set yourself.
It’s not about awards or sales figures or what people said or how it was received and who is interested next. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about being able to collapse on your sofa at Christmas, indulge in a movie – dose off in a Saturday afternoon haze and feel that all is well with the world. Success is the joy you feel. I did it. I told my story. I took my life and made 1 hr 45 minutes of a movie out of it. It’s there for my children. And I will try and do it again. It would be a privilege. But if I don’t ever do it again, I will be forever grateful for what Papadopoulos & Sons has taught me and the people I’ve met who I now call friends.
Last week we screened the film in Nicosia, at the Zena Palace Cinema. It was so fitting that its last big public outing was back where the seeds of the story began in Cyprus. You could not have planned such a wonderful coincidence – to be surrounded at the Zena Palace with so many members of my family – screening such a timely story about hope at such a difficult time.
A fellow film maker called Marta Cunningham – who I was very fortunate to meet at the Seattle Film Festival this year – described Papa as a ‘love letter to my family’. When I think of all the things that have been said about this film, this was the most touching and the most accurate because it came from a relative stranger. For someone I hardly knew, she knew me and my film better than myself.
You think your film is so many things because it has so many stages of existence – first as notes on a story, then a film script, then a set of locations and a budget. It then becomes about its actors and production, about editing and music. It’s then a product and a sales opportunity, a poster, a trailer, a distribution deal, a form of entertainment – a DVD and download. But at its core, what Marta reminded me, without me being fully conscious of it, is that this was a simple love letter to my family – to my grandparents, to my uncles and aunts and cousins, my parents, my brothers, their children, my wife, my sons (maybe their children too one day) and to my ancestors. At its core, Papa is a love letter to the child I was. It is a letter and an invitation to that child to be part of my life now and I am forever grateful for this encounter.