New documentary The Divided Island revisits the Cyprus Conflict ahead of the 50th anniversary of the 1974 War

A British Turkish Cypriot film director has set out to do what has rarely been done before: to produce a balanced and comprehensive account of the Cyprus conflict.

Arriving in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the 1974 War, Cey Sesigüzel’s new 90-minute film The Divided Island uses archive footage, expert commentary, and testimony from both Cypriot communities to tell the story of the recent tragic events on the island.

Unlike many other Cyprus documentaries, which tend to focus on the period from 1974 onwards, Sesigüzel’s film explores the historical events that led to the outbreak of the conflict in December 1963 through to the 1974 War and the partition of Cyprus along ethnic lines.

Fifteen people feature in the film talking about their lived experiences and views on the long-running Cyprus dispute. They include Cypriots living on the island and those in the diaspora, who are now resident in Britain and Australia.

“This is not a political movie,” Sesigüzel said about his film. “In this project, which took four years to complete, I tried to explain the impact of war on societies. I included the views of both [Cypriot] communities on this issue.“

His parents, Belgin and Öztürk Sesigüzel, are originally from Larnaca, in eastern Cyprus. They moved to London in the early 1980s, where Cey Sesigüzel was born. He grew up in North London, which is home to the UK’s largest Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

A film graduate from Westminster University, Sesigüzel has gone on to establish his own video production company, Two Fresh, with his friend and fellow British Cypriot, Andreas Tokkallos, who serves as an associate producer on The Divided Island. Their combined input means the views of both communities remain central to the documentary’s compelling narrative.

“This is not a political film”

The film was well received at a private screening in Cuffley last week, where Sesigüzel addressed the small audience: “I am not a politician. I tried to explain, from an impartial perspective, the views of both communities regarding the war. I benefited from the British archives. I did a lot of research. I tried to reflect that establishing empathy between the two communities and trying to understand each other better will yield better results for Cyprus.”

Film director Cey Sesiguzel


Answering questions from the audience after the screening, Sesigüzel stated that, “The film does not try to condemn, blame or influence any issue. It aims to approach this complex issue — now in its 50th year – fairly and from different perspectives.”

“The documentary presents scenes from the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, we delve into the history [of Cyprus] from the past hundred 100 years.”

“Financially, it took time [to make the documentary] because I used my family, friends and my own financial resources. It’s not a political movie. I reflected the opinions of many people, young and old, in the film,” the 36-year-old director went on to explain.

When asked what he wanted to convey with his film, Sesigüzel said: “My message is to give a chance [in Cyprus] to peace, mutual understanding, working together, and understanding each other.

“We see the impact of wars with wave after wave of immigrants and their problems. It affects us all. I guess this movie will attract everyone’s attention. In short, war is a terrible trauma and affects us all, everywhere, deeply.”

“Bringing the human trauma to the fore”

One of those featured in the film is T-VINE Magazine’s editor Ipek Ozerim, who also attended the Cuffley screening. Afterwards, she said:

“I was curious how Cey would sew this complex story together. He’s done an amazing job! I could not imagine a better and more balanced documentary for the 50th anniversary of 1974 than The Divided Island. It is a film that every Cypriot, and anyone interested in Cyprus, needs to see to understand the roots of this conflict and its impact on the two communities.

“We’ve spent too long in silos, not really appreciating the pain and trauma of the other side, nor the wider geopolitical interests at play.

“What’s so compelling about The Divided Island is the vivid and comprehensive way it navigates the history of Cyprus, while bringing the human trauma to the fore. You can’t help but be touched by the suffering of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who’ve lived through the conflict.”

“From a Turkish Cypriot perspective, this is the first [non-Turkish] film I have ever watched that tells our side of the story too. It’s a vital part of the jigsaw, which so many other filmmakers seem to miss when covering Cyprus.”

The Divided Island will have its world premiere this summer, before going on to have a general release at cinemas. You can follow the documentary’s progress on social media via its Instagram page The Divided Island.



Director Cey Sesiguzel on why his Cyprus documentary offers a “fresh perspective”, as he appeals for funds to complete the film, 23 Nov. 2022