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Expat UK Cypriots protest ‘TRNC’ tourist promotion

Tue, 2017-08-08 12:03

The National Federation of Cypriots in the UK has written letters to the Sunday Telegraph and the MailOnline, which promoted holidays in the Turkish-held area of Cyprus, it announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, the federation, which described itself as the umbrella organisation representing Cypriot community associations and groups across the UK, said that “the UK’s 300,000 British nationals of Cypriot origin strongly object to such adverts and appeal to fellow Britons not to go on holiday in the areas of Cyprus that are illegally occupied by Turkey since 1974”.

In particular, the federation protested that the Sunday Telegraph referred to Kyrenia harbour as being in the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

In its letter, the federation reminded the editorial team at the Sunday Telegraph that “the illegal regime in the Turkish-held part is described by the United Nations as ‘legally invalid’ (United Nations Security Council Resolution 541)”.

“The feature misrepresents the situation in Nicosia, the last divided capital city in the world,” the letter said.

“The Sunday Telegraph described Nicosia as being ‘divided into Turkish Cypriot and Greek zones’. Nicosia is not divided into zones on ethnic lines and is only divided into zones as a tragic result of Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation. This type of inaccurate reporting normalises Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation to readers and misleads them about reality in Cyprus.”

The MailOnline, the federation said, published an article about the occupied northern part of Cyprus that referred to the Karpas peninsula as “isolated” and “the most naturally beautiful and sparsely populated part of the island.”

In its letter, the federation pointed out that “the town of Rizokarpaso is home to enclaved Greek Cypriots who are deliberately ‘isolated’ and deprived of their human rights by the illegal regime and are forced to rely heavily on supplies delivered to them by the United Nations”.
“It is therefore, both inappropriate and insensitive for the MailOnline to romanticise such a place,” the federation charged.

“We ask you to withdraw this article [and] kindly suggest that the MailOnline contact the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK in the future for information on how to accurately report issues that relate to Cyprus.”

The letters also asked both news outlets to “refrain from future advertorials about the Turkish-held part of Cyprus, given the offense caused to the large number of refugees who now live in the UK and lost their property following the illegal Turkish invasion”.

The post Expat UK Cypriots protest ‘TRNC’ tourist promotion appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Harmonised inflation seen at 0.1% in July, Cystat says

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:54

The harmonised consumer price index fell an annual 0.1 per cent in July as cheaper food and beverages and other industrial products offset the impact of higher energy prices, the statistical service said.

From January to July, the harmonised annual inflation rate was 1 per cent, Cystat said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

The post Harmonised inflation seen at 0.1% in July, Cystat says appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Line up for 2017 VMAs released

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:35

The flame-haired star is expected to sing a song from his recent chart-topping album ‘Divide’ when he takes to the stage at the Forum in Los Angeles on August 27, where Lorde, 30 Seconds to Mars and Shawn Mendes will also play.

Katy Perry and The Weeknd are also set to perform on the night, and they could be in front of the audience a lot more as they both have five nominations each.

The Weeknd is up for Video of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing.

He will face off against Kendrick Lamar in four of those categories, and the 30-year-old rapper has nods for four others, leading the nominations with an impressive eight.

Kendrick is also up for Best Hip Hop Video, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Choreography for the video for his hit single ‘Humble’.

Katy’s single ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ is nominated for Best Pop Video, Best Direction and Best Visual Effects, whilst her track ‘Bon Appetite’ is up for Best Art Direction.

The MTV VMAs has hit the headlines for various reasons over the years, such as in 1984 when Madonna sang ‘Like a Virgin’ while rolling around the stage in a white wedding dress, and in 2003 she kissed Britney Spears on stage.

Britney also shocked in 2001 when she performed ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ with a giant yellow python draped across her shoulders, and there was another controversial smooch in 1994 when Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley shared an awkward kiss on stage just three months after tying the knot.

The post Line up for 2017 VMAs released appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

A festive mountain trip

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:34

After the relaxation and soaking up of the sun this weekend at the beaches, next weekend will offer the chance to head to the mountains for the fifth Xarkis festival.

Held in Limassol district’s Koilani village, the two-day cultural and interactive event includes experiential workshops, music, open air cinema, audio walks, installations and a musical experiment. With a more cohesive and comprehensive structure, this year Xarkis Festival is implemented with collaborators who, like every year, have been selected mainly on the basis of their contribution to social and creative groups.

The festival works towards rejuvenating traditional crafts and the revival of interest in younger generations, in order for them to be preserved in years to come.

When it comes to music there will be plenty to listen to. The sound of an electro acoustic pedal harp will be created by solo artist MC & The 7 Pedals. There will also be Jannis Anastasakis on guitar with versatile Greek singer Sofia Sarri. Together the duo will create their own spontaneous compositions and melodic improvisations. Coming from Berlin, singer Alcalica will show us how her music can overcome borders when civilisations and traditions meet, fuse and interact.

One musical act is set right apart from the rest at this year’s festival with Andreas Christakkos, who is a renowned pithkiavli (flute) player.

In the performance category Anastasia McCammon will present three site-specific performances that explore the storytelling experience, while Manuel Lopez Garcia will perform under the name Displaced Frequencies, and reflect on memory and collective identity.

On the workshop front, the visual artist Twenty-three will bring us up close to the technique of stencil art. When it comes to cinema, all those present will watch stories about man vs their environment under the stars. And because culture and tradition are things that must be passed down, there will be a session during which people from the village will talk about their lives, the past and their stories.

This year the festival is free of charge but any donations will be welcome.

For more information about the event and a complete programme go to http://xarkis.org.

Xarkis Festival
A festival with workshops, performances and more. August 19-20. Koilani Village, Limassol. All day event. Free. Tel: 97-676011

The post A festive mountain trip appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Banks to benefit from increase in demand for loans, Moody’s says

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:32

Moody’s Investors Service said that it expects Cypriot banks to extend the highest amount of new loans in a single year since the 2013 banking crisis, benefiting from an increase in demand for mortgages and corporate credit.

The expected increase in demand for new loans excludes loan restructurings and comes as economic growth picks up, conditions on the labour market improve and the real estate market recovers, Moody’s said in an emailed statement. Already in the first six months of the year, total new lending stood at €1.6bn, which is two thirds of the total new lending extended in 2016.

“An increase, while maintaining strong underwriting standards and best practices, will be credit positive for Cypriot banks because it will support revenue generation, help stabilise declining pre-provision profits and bolster weak balance sheets,” Moody’s said. “The increase in new lending will support banks’ net interest income and curtail declining pre-provision profit and contracting loan books from write-offs of bad debts. Higher revenues will support banks’ capacity to further improve their balance sheet by writing off bad loans. Banks expect demand for loans by non-financial corporates and mortgage borrowers to increase in the third quarter of this year, and expect that lending standards, which tightened in 2014 and remained stable since, will not change”.

The Cypriot economy, which expanded 3.3 per cent in the first quarter, is expected to grow 2.9 per cent this year, marginally higher than 2016, helping reduce the unemployment rate to 10.8 per cent in June, the lowest since March 2012.

“Of the large domestic banks, Hellenic Bank would benefit most from the increased demand in new lending given its large stock of low-yielding liquid assets,” Moody’s said. “Hellenic Bank’s cash and balances with banks was 37.9 per cent of assets in March 2017, which is a drag on profitability. However, Bank of Cyprus is increasing its loans at the fastest rate”.

Bank of Cyprus extended €502m in fresh lending in the first quarter of the year which accounted for 2.5 per cent of its gross loans at the end of last year against €89m or 2.1 per cent in the case of Hellenic Bank, the rating company said.

“Notwithstanding the increasing loan demand, it will take time for Cypriot banks to rehabilitate their balance sheets because of a high stock of problem loans: for Moody’s-rated Cypriot banks, problem loans were 48 per cent of gross loans in December 2016,” Moody’s said.

The post Banks to benefit from increase in demand for loans, Moody’s says appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Film review: The Dark Tower **

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:30

By Preston Wilder

The Dark Tower stands at the centre of the universe, but “the mind of a child can bring it down” says an opening caption. The mind of a child is a useful weapon when it comes to a film like The Dark Tower, based on a series of books by Stephen King – kids are just better at bringing conviction to this kind of fairytale fantasy – and 15-year-old Tom Taylor is the MVP here, his watchful look and hunted green eyes carrying a compelling intensity. “You have to believe me!” pleads Jake (our hero), trying to convince his mum and stepdad that his drawings of a ‘Gunslinger’ and a ‘Man in Black’ aren’t just products of his grief and confusion over the death of his father.

Taylor is great; the adults don’t fare as well. Matthew McConaughey is the Man in Black (he’s real, it turns out, not just in Jake’s imagination, reigning over a dimension called the ‘Midworld’ as opposed to our own ‘Keystone Earth’), his face buffed and polished to the point of seeming Photoshopped. MiB is a sorcerer, able to control or destroy with a single command, though McConaughey doesn’t seem too invested; his evil wizard has a kind of flamboyant deadness that recalls Christopher Walken or, at a pinch, Donald Trump. Idris Elba is the Gunslinger, another hero with daddy issues who alas has “stopped believing”, consumed by a thirst for vengeance – and Elba brings a mildly soulful smoulder to this one-dimensional role, also getting to speak what is surely the line of the summer. It comes when a seer reads his innermost thoughts, then asks him to confirm that her reading is correct. “Only a goat would lie to a seer,” replies Idris, a puzzling answer – do goats lie more than other animals? – but one I’ll surely be using in real life when confronted with some prescient analysis. ‘You look a bit down today, you must be feeling tired.’ ‘Only a goat would lie to a seer.’

This is getting flippant, and it shouldn’t be flippant. The Dark Tower series (eight books, written mostly in the late 90s and early 00s, adding up to over 4000 pages) is a huge deal for Stephen King fans, variously described as their Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. This $60 million big-screen adaptation is intended as a cornerstone for a possible franchise: there’s talk of a companion TV series, and a line of Dark Tower comics already exists. It’s a grand and ambitious plan – but significantly hobbled by the movie itself, which is just a trifling kiddie fantasy in the style of The Neverending Story (indeed, Taylor looks a lot like an older version of Barret Oliver in Story). Whatever the books are like, it’s hard to imagine a neutral pining for more of this thinly-detailed Gunslinger and his youthful companion.

That said, it’s quite a pleasant movie, even if it falls between two stools (it’s been rated ‘15’ here, keeping out the tween audience who’d likely appreciate it most). The kid, as already mentioned, is an engaging hero, brave in the face of peril and wide-eyed as he learns about his ‘Shine’, or psychic powers (“Whoa… Her voice is in my head!”). The early scenes in New York – infiltrated by the Man in Black’s agents, whose faces are masks of human skin hiding their true faces – have a springy paranoia, and McConaughey gets a funny moment when the kid’s parents come home to find him raiding the fridge in their kitchen: “Where I come from, we don’t have chicken!”. Even the inevitable showdown is quite well-staged – bullets vs. shards of glass, with the portal gleaming in the background – though you have to wonder why MiB chooses to face the Gunslinger on the latter’s physical terms, when he has so much magic at his disposal.

This is yet another of those cases when it’s hard to know what to do with this film. Should we recommend, or not? It’s not soulless, like Transformers, but it doesn’t look as good either; some of the effects, like a scaly beast that attacks our heroes in Midworld, are decidedly ropey. Performances are flat, young Taylor excepted. The whole film is lame, albeit in a way that’s sometimes ingratiating. A much grander project was presumably intended, but should the failure to adapt King’s allegedly ‘unadaptable’ source be the end of it? Should I lie to the reader and claim that the – juvenile, unsurprising, mercifully short – result doesn’t have its own modest pleasures? Only a goat would lie to the reader.

 

THE DARK TOWER 

DIRECTED BY Nikolaj Arcel

STARRING Tom Taylor, Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey

US 2017                                95 mins

The post Film review: The Dark Tower ** appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

TP ICAP considers more deals after ‘mixed’ first half

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:30
Interdealer broker cut 175 jobs as part of the integration of ICAP business

Turkey agrees to German lawmaker visit to troops, says Berlin

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:11

Turkey has agreed to let German lawmakers visit soldiers serving at an air base in Turkey next month as part of a Nato trip, a letter from the German foreign minister showed on Tuesday, after Ankara refused a visit there in July.

A row over access to German soldiers at Turkish bases has heightened tensions between the Nato allies and fuelled a wider row with Ankara. Turkey arrested 10 human rights activists last month, including a German, in a security crackdown.

A letter from German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to the head of Germany’s parliamentary defence committee said Turkey had agreed to a Nato proposal for a visit to the air base near Konya on Sept 8.

Under the plan, Nato’s Deputy General-Secretary Rose Gottemoeller would lead the delegation and take up to seven members of the parliamentary committee with her.

“The Turkish foreign minister has agreed to this proposal,” Gabriel wrote.

Details were still being worked out about which lawmakers would be included in the visit. Turkey had objected particularly strenuously to participation by members of Germany’s far-left Left party, whom Ankara accuses of supporting terrorists.

Repeated refusals by Ankara to let lawmakers visit German soldiers at the Incirlik air base in Turkey made Berlin relocate those troops to Jordan. It also refused a visit to Konya planned for mid-July.

Germany’s armed forces are under parliamentary control and Berlin insists lawmakers must have access to them.

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of assisting terrorists by not responding to files sent to Berlin or handing over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

The post Turkey agrees to German lawmaker visit to troops, says Berlin appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Akel’s Venizelos Zanettos pardoned (Update)

Tue, 2017-08-08 11:10

High-ranking Akel member Venizelos Zanettos, currently serving a three-and-a-half year jail term over the Dromolaxia scandal, has been pardoned by President Nicos Anastasiades and will be released on Thursday, ahead of his normal release date of September 6, it was announced on Tuesday.

Zanettos and 37 other convicts have been pardoned ahead of the August 15 holiday.

Of the 38, the Cyprus News Agency reported, 25 are Greek Cypriots and 13 foreigners.

All will have served at least half their sentence by August 15.

The remainder of their sentence will be suspended for three years.

According to the pardoning rules, the Attorney-General’s office sends a list recommending pardons to the President for final approval.

Persons convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, drug trafficking and crimes of sexual nature, are not eligible for pardon.

Presidential pardons are extended at Christmas, Easter, August 15 and October 1st, and aim to decongest the correctional facility and help reintroduce inmates to society.

Zanettos was arrested in October 2013 in connection with the high-profile case concerning the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of a land plot in Dromolaxia at an inflated price.

The trial began in March 2014. It revolved around the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca airport, at a price several times the going market value. The land was initially sold to a company by the name of Wadnic Trading, which upgraded the coefficients, built on it and sold it on to the CyTA pension fund for some €20 million.

The court delivered a guilty verdict for Zanettos; ex-CyTA boss Stathis Kittis; former Electricity Authority boss Charalambos Tsouris, who was a member of the board of directors of CyTA during the material time; trade union rep Orestis Vasiliou; land registry official Gregoris Souroullas; and the company Polleson Holdings Ltd as a legal entity.

The post Akel’s Venizelos Zanettos pardoned (Update) appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Model, jeweller, rescue worker

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:56

Custom-designing rings for Johnny Depp and saving lives, THEO PANAYIDES meets a former male model scared of love

Johnny Depp asked for a skull ring, says Marcus Platrides, founder and CEO of Etherial Jewellery – just a basic skull ring, nothing fancy. Custom-made, of course, not from the house line; “I don’t think he’d ever buy something from the house line”. He and Johnny only ever spoke on the phone, he explains – but, for instance, the members of venerable rock band Uriah Heep “knocked on my door” here in Nicosia, and he met Kim Wilde in Brussels where Kim was performing onstage and Marcus was accepting an EU business award. We talk on Wednesday; on Friday he’s off to London to design something for Djibril Cissé, the former Liverpool striker and current DJ. Fleur-de-lis is likely to feature in the design, muses Marcus; Cissé, being French, has a thing for fleur-de-lis.

It seems a bit unlikely, Captain Jack Sparrow phoning a one-man operation in Nicosia (there are no permanent employees; it’s just Marcus and a handful of freelancers) for his jewellery needs – but in fact it’s not so unlikely. For one thing, says Marcus, there are only three or four designers in the world making his particular niche, variously described as “rock-chic jewellery” or “luxury skull jewellery” – i.e. rings, pendants, earrings and so forth which are shaped like skulls, bones and vertebrae but made of precious metals and precious or semi-precious stones. For another, though Etherial has a cursory showroom in Nicosia (“I’m never there, I never actually go. It’s by appointment only”), hardly any of his sales come from Cyprus; instead, Marcus makes arrangements for his products to appear in boutiques and hotel shops in places like Las Vegas or Ibiza, which presumably is where Johnny Depp saw something he liked and decided to place a personal order.

The business model seems to work, overheads kept to a minimum: “I rent the equipment [to make the jewellery] whenever I have business. I buy the silver whenever I get paid”. House-line items retail from about €100 to €2,000, custom-made pieces depend on the materials (“I’m not at liberty to say what the most expensive item I sold cost”). That said, the company’s origins are surprisingly casual. I’d assumed Marcus was a lifelong artistic type who’d founded the business to promote his designs but in fact he seems to be the opposite, a businessman who became a designer: armed with a degree in Economics and Politics, he was looking for some entrepreneurial project on which to embark in his mid-20s – and found inspiration when he went to Sri Lanka on honeymoon with his first wife in 2005, and asked a local craftsman to make a copy of a ring he’d bought in London.

Struck by how much cheaper the copy was (and how close to the original), he decided to open a small factory in Sri Lanka, hiring a dozen employees who – unlike him – were goldsmiths and silversmiths. A few months later, still on extended vacation with his wife Mary (“Our honeymoon lasted about a year”) but now in Vegas, he had a stroke of luck when Mary was doing her hair in the salon of the Wynn Hotel and the stylist turned out to be great friends with Mrs Steve Wynn, wife of the man who owned the hotel. Mary befriended Mrs Wynn, mentioned her husband’s new business, Marcus met Mr Wynn “and it was just a matter of him clicking his fingers and saying OK,” he recalls. “Ultimately, Mary is responsible for what Etherial has become today – because it was that opening at the Wynn Hotel which got Etherial viewed by a potential 5,000 new customers every single day!” The only further twist was the closure of the Sri Lanka factory due to civil war, after which Marcus relocated to Cyprus and learned to craft the jewellery himself.

Fast-forward a decade or so, and I’m walking to the door of a stately old two-storey home on a hill overlooking Nicosia, a neighbourhood that’s been posh for generations. There’s money, or at least a proximity to money. Marcus’ maternal grandfather, he tells me later, owned Apollo, “the biggest garment factory in Cyprus”. His mum is now married to Marios Eliades, a prominent lawyer and former minister (Marcus looks up to Eliades and considers him more of a father than his real dad, whom he hasn’t spoken to in five years). His first wife, the aforementioned Mary, was Mary Tornaritis, scion of a big Nicosia family and a staple of the glossy-magazine circuit; still on the internet is a back-and-forth volley of disses between Marcus and Mary after their divorce in 2013, carried out through the pages of Must and Omikron. (They’d been together for seven years; he remarried briefly in 2014, a marriage that ended after only a few months.) Marcus himself looks impressive, tall, buff and bearded, his body covered in tattoos. He goes to the gym every day – “every single day” – and plays football every day; he has no other hobbies to speak of. “This is how I rest, by going to the gym and playing football.”

He’s candid, with a singular story to tell (did we mention that he used to be a model? we’ll get to that later) – but not, strictly speaking, wide-open, with a side of himself he prefers to keep private. This hilltop house is his parents’ home, where he grew up; he lives in a flat with his dog, a Miniature Pinscher named Kal-El, but “I don’t usually bring people to where I live, it’s my private quarters”. His tattoos have their own secret energy: “They basically reflect stories from my life. I have a little boy hanging from a dead tree,” he adds, pointing to one rather gaudy illustration, “and this is supposed to be me”.

Sounds a bit heavy, I note.

“Yeah… A little boy, he’s dead, hanging from a dead tree. And a girl swinging from the tree on the other side” – there is indeed the figure of a girl, swinging happily – “paying no attention to the boy”.

And what does it mean?

“Uhh… It’s personal.”

Other bits of body-art are easier to parse. There’s the clock of life, “to remind me that time is ticking away”. (He’ll be 37 at the end of this month.) Three women representing Columbus’ three ships, the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria, a reminder that he used to be in the Navy (actually “a naval commando in the Greek special forces” during National Service). And what about the painted figures crawling up his shoulder? “These are demons,” he replies. “I have demons, I have demons at the back as well. Demons leaning on a skull. And these are the demons fighting inside of me.” Marcus laughs, a little uncertainly: “Look, jewellery is not the only thing I do in my life, I do other things as well”. He pauses, whether out of shyness or a sense of drama: “One of these things is that I’m a high-ranking officer of the Cyprus Rescue Services”.

To be honest, it doesn’t sound like a case of hidden demons – more like a case of surprising altruism – but it’s certainly a big part of his life; indeed, he adds surprisingly, “I’m actually waiting for a position to open in the Civil Defence”, after which (assuming he gets in) he’ll happily work full-time as a civil servant, and give up Etherial. “The latest rescue we did was two days ago, when we rescued Syrian immigrants from a sinking boat,” Marcus tells me. “I’m on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for the Rescue Services. So – when was it? – last Friday I was at the military camp in Kokkinotrimithia, it’s called Pournara, it’s the camp for the refugees, and basically I set up the camp, I made the registrations of everybody coming in, I made sure everyone was safe [and] had food to eat”. He’s also rescued people and animals from forest fires – “Nothing dies on my shift,” he declares dramatically – adding that “I’ve always had this urge to make sure everybody’s all right”. Look! exclaims Marcus, showing me his arm: it makes his hairs stand on end just to talk about this stuff.

modelling for Dolce & Gabbana

I pause, trying to take it all in. Custom-designing skull rings for Johnny Depp is impressive enough – but it turns out he’s also saved lives, and done all these good deeds. He was in the special forces, has a black belt in karate, modelled for Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana (we really will get to that eventually). Yet he’s also twice-divorced and now lives alone, with a dog called Kal-El for company. Why, with so much going for him, do the long-term relationships not seem to work out?

“I don’t know,” he replies, nodding sadly in acknowledgment. “I’m a free spirit, Theo,” he adds earnestly. “I’m a free spirit… I have so many things to do in this short life, that perhaps I don’t have time to devote myself to what a woman will really need – which is basically love, warmth, and to be there, and love, and cuddle, and wake up together and do things together. Me, I’m always on the go. I might get a call at two or three in the morning – I’ll just get up, put on my uniform and go.”

But surely a mature woman can accept all that?

“Yeah,” he agrees rather dubiously. “I mean, love for me is – I don’t think I can love. I really don’t think I can love. I can give attention, I can protect.” He shakes his head ruefully: “That’s my limit.”

In the end, like a lot of high achievers, it may be that his strongest motivation isn’t love but competitiveness, and a compulsion to prove himself. “What I’m going to tell you now is an insight to my character, who I am and what I’m willing to do,” he declares – then tells me the story (at last!) of his male-modelling days, which began inauspiciously when he answered an ad in the paper as a pimply, chubby 15-year-old. The ad, calling for models, turned out to be a scam, tricking him into paying for photos which turned out to be useless – so, brimming with resentment, teenage Marcus resolved “to become a supermodel, just to show them”. He started dieting and going to the gym – and “about a year later, I literally had the body of a model… One thing led to another, and within six years I had worked for Dolce & Gabbana in Milan, I had worked for Roberto Cavalli. I won Most Photogenic Male Model in the world, in India in 2002 [at] the Mr. International pageant for male models”. A clip from that may be found on YouTube (search for ‘XRayAthens’, the user who uploaded it), with a fresh-faced Marcus fielding generic questions. “All the young girls will be rooting for these men – they’ve been breaking their hearts!” chirps the (female) presenter.

It was all a façade, of course, the empty panorama of men as slabs of marbled beef for young girls to swoon over. In fact, he says now, the world of male models was a dangerous one, full of perils and predators – “drugs, fake promises, homosexuals, you name it” – where gullible young guys said yes to anything in order to get jobs, and sold their souls in the process. “So many lost souls. So many,” muses Marcus, thinking back to his old friends in the industry – and shows me the hairs on his arm again, once again standing to attention at the memory.

Marcus Platrides seems at peace nowadays; maybe he has nothing left to prove, or maybe – after two careers, two marriages and rescuing refugees in his downtime – he’s decided to keep things simple. He lives healthy, wakes up at six every morning and keeps his focus on work: “I don’t owe anybody money. I pay my taxes. I’m straightforward. I sleep at night, and I sleep like a baby”. He doesn’t really plan to remarry, nor does he plan to be designing jewellery for the likes of Johnny Depp forever; a job in the Civil Defence then, 20 years down the line, a quiet retirement to a house in the mountains suits him fine, he claims. “I’m not pretentious,” he insists, despite the celebrity clients and sporadic mentions in glossy magazines. “I’m a very misunderstood character. I don’t know why.”

How does he cope when things go wrong? How does he keep his equilibrium? “I go to the gym, I lift weights,” he replies. “I go play football, I score goals – and I sweat! And when I go home, I go under the shower and I let all the bad toxins go down the drain. Then my dog comes next to me, I pat him. And that’s it.” I shake his hand, feeling oddly exhilarated – whether because he’s so positive, or because I’m just one degree of separation from Johnny Depp.

The post Model, jeweller, rescue worker appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Documentary is a story that needed to be told

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:41

For the Love of God, a short documentary film made in Paphos on a very low budget, has been slected to be screened at the prestigious International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films in Bulgaria in October.

Organised by the Bulgarian Red Cross, under the auspices of the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Health Organisation and Unesco, the festival gets an ‘A’ rating, the same as the festivals in Cannes, Venice, San Sebastian, and others. It highlights issues such as humanity, health and solidarity. For the Love of God deals with issues of human rights, freedom of religion, love, faith and persecution.

Directed and produced by Paphos-based filmmaker and journalist Bejay Browne, the documentary is currently being shown at festivals around the world.

Browne’s 20-minute film highlights the plight of Egyptian Coptic Christian converts Maher and his daughter Dina Elgohary, who fled to Cyprus from Egypt in November 2016, in fear of their lives. Coptic Christians have been persecuted throughout history and are often the target of intolerance and sectarian violence. Copts in Egypt make up around 10 per cent of the population – the largest religious minority.

Conversions from Islam to Christianity are not officially recognised in Egypt. Apostates live in daily fear of their lives, some flee to other countries.

“After meeting Maher and Dina, I felt strongly that their story needed to be told using the medium of film and I had to do it in a way which involved a minimal outlay,” Browne said.

The filmmaker said she is looking forward to participating in the Red Cross film festival and accompanying forum, which will be held in Varna, near the Black Sea, at the impressive Sok Kamchia complex.

“I am very grateful to have been invited to attend the event by the festival director Ilko Raev. The idea of the festival is not only screening films, but also a forum, where people meet to discuss various humanitarian issues.”

Raev said that these include the characteristics of Red Cross and Red Crescent activities and topical issues like aggression and how to handle the problem, and most importantly – how to depict these humanitarian issues with the help of the cinema.

“The festival will help create a greater awareness of the cultural characteristics of people in different parts of Europe, and their traditions of coexistence, mutual aid and volunteering. It will help to educate society for tolerance and understanding,” he said.

Browne said that the film is a significant project for her as she strongly believes it is a basic human right to live in peace without facing daily abuse and fear. She added that the differences between people are what makes us unique and interesting, and only by knowing others and opening our minds can we find the strength to overcome fear and hatred.

“The social interaction between us all, whatever our religion, culture or race needs to be carried out with respect for others, and very importantly for ourselves,” she said.

For the Love of God premiered at the 12th Cyprus International film festival in June, where Browne received an honorary mention. The film was also part of the official selection for the 11th River Film Festival in Italy. It will also be shown as part of the Associazione Contéiner in Veneto, Italy in August. In September, the film will have its UK premier at Vue cinema in Islington, London as part of the 11th I Will Tell international film festival and in the USA at Salute your Shorts film festival in Los Angeles, also in August.

The Paphos crew is a small team consisting of cameraman Giorgos Christanas, who also co-edits with Browne, and Hannah Sampson, as the boom operator and production assistant. The trio have already started shooting their next documentary film which will depict ageing in an inspirational form.

Browne spent much of her childhood in Paphos and moved to Cyprus in 2006, where she worked at local TV stations-as a producer, director and presenter. In 2008 she joined the Cyprus Mail.

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