A brief summary
In 1974, a coup backed by the Greek military junta instigated Turkey to invade the nation of Cyprus. They captured almost 40% of the island and displaced its residents, both Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot.
Varosha, which was once a tourist district in the city of Famagusta on the east coast of Cyprus, was occupied and all its Greek-Cypriot residents fled their homes. Since then, Varosha has been encircled by barbed wire and kept under surveillance by the Turkish military, which uses the territory as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Cyprus government. Its citizens are still forbidden to return. Over the last 39 years, Varosha went from being "Cyprus's Riviera", to a dilapidated ghost city; its former inhabitants watch their houses decay from outside the barricades. Within Varosha's limits rare sea turtles nest on the beaches, bougainvilleas overtake deteriorating homes, and wild asparagus and prickly pear plants run rampant.
Any reopening of Varosha, if and when that occurs, presents a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and rebuild for a better future. Yet it comes with significant risks. Without careful planning, it could become just another unsustainable development in an already crowded Mediterranean tourism market, while cementing Famagusta as the second divided city in Cyprus.
Rebuilding Varosha in the context of a model ecopolis promotes peaceful coexistence amongst all of Famagusta’s inhabitants, embraces the latest ecocity technologies and thereby becomes a center for peace and sustainability within a troubled region. The Famagusta Ecocity Project aims to ultimately turn all of Famagusta into Europe’s model Ecocity. The project will be a multi-track approach to environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and peace building. Those involved will be local and international architects, permaculture designers, economists, business owners, urban planners, horticulturists, engineers, artists, conflict mediation specialists and more.
The aim is the implementation of the Varosha ecopolis and the transformation of Famagusta into a thriving cultural, economic and environmental hub. Yet, the road is sure to be a bumpy one, after 39 years of separation there will certainly be many obstacles along the way as a result. And that’s exactly what makes it an interesting film subject.
This film will be following the story of this team as they rally support across the island and beyond for The Famagusta Ecocity Project. We will meet the Turkish-Cypriots who live in Famagusta today, hear what it has been like for them living next to this ghost city and what they would like to see done with it in the future. We will hear the memories and dreams of the Greek-Cypriot Famagusta refugee community as they hope and plan for their city’s impending revival. We will engage diplomats, business leaders, port workers, restaurant & hotel owners, soldiers, teachers, artists, and other Famagusta citizens from both sides of the divide in a dialogue about what a Famagusta ecocity could look like, recording their reactions, both positive and negative.
We will visit other locations around the world that have adopted sustainability in their town planning, while showing the way these principles can be adapted to the Cypriot climate as well as its environmental, political and economic conditions.
We will reveal the challenges of mending two communities who have remained divided while living a stone’s throw away from each other for the past thirty-eight years. (For safety and peace building reasons we will not put the “stone’s throw” claim to the test).
The aim of the film is to see how the team prepares the ground in both communities to find the strength and resolve to crack a decades long conflict using a fresh idea like that presented in The Famagusta Ecocity Project. Whether the team fails or succeeds in its Cypriot mission, the documentary will still be able to provide a blueprint for other towns to use in preparing their own communities for a more stable and lasting future.