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Stelana Kliris • Producer, Meraki Films

"I’m looking for great stories that I can connect with and filmmakers I’m happy to spend the next few years with”


- ​​The Cyprus-based producer talks about her upcoming projects, the challenges that the Cyprus film industry is facing, and the rewarding aspects of her job

Stelana Kliris • Producer, Meraki Films

Stelana Kliris launched Meraki Films in 2016, both as a banner for her own work as a director and as a production house for local filmmakers, mostly women. In 2022, she wrote, directed and produced The Islander starring Harry Connick Jr, which was the biggest local film to be shot in Cyprus in terms of cast and budget. She is currently in development on her next feature, Apart from Her, and Yianna Americanou’s second feature, My Name is Lily. She has been selected as a participant for this year's edition of European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move programme.

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Cineuropa: What inspired you to enter the film industry?
Stelana Kliris
: A childhood obsession with stories, whether through books or movies, and then finally realising that I could tell my own. I also love the people I work with, they are my “film family” and a big part of what keeps me going.

What are the main challenges and advantages of producing in Cyprus and how would you rate the current state of its film scene?
Cyprus has a small but developing film industry which means the obvious challenges of availability of crew and resources, but also the advantages of having an experienced, close-knit crew who works like clockwork and is, above all, passionate about what they do. We also have a very small market, which means our films have to travel beyond our island in order to be sustainable. This just means taking a certain approach to the kinds of stories we tell and how we tell them. In terms of production, we have a national fund from the Deputy Ministry of Culture which received a significant increase this year and nurtures the local film industry, as well as a new set of financial incentives by the Cyprus Film Commission to attract foreign productions. These include a 40% rebate on below-the-line eligible expenditure and a 25% rebate on above-the-line eligible expenditure. Meraki Films actually just produced the first ever film in Cyprus to combine both national funding and incentives, and I believe we set a good precedent that we hope to repeat. So,we’re quite optimistic at the moment about the current state of our film scene. 

What is the most challenging aspect of a producer's job, and which is the most rewarding?
The hustle of financing films in a landscape that keeps changing at an ever-increasing pace is definitely the most challenging aspect of the job. The reward comes when, despite the many obstacles, you get to share that finished film with an audience. I also love being on set, watching the magic happen.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am in post-production on The Islander, which I also wrote and directed. It was produced together with Keith Arnold and Steve Shapiro as a Cyprus-USA co-production starring Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning actor and singer Harry Connick Jr, and the biggest local film ever to be shot in Cyprus. I have two more features in development, also supported by our Deputy Ministry of Culture, namely My Name is Lily by Yianna Americanou, a European co-production about an intersex person which is in early development, and Apart from Her which is my next feature as director and is in financing. I’m also developing the series Unexpected which will be presented as part of the Owl Screenwriting Workshop in Cannes.

What criteria do you follow when choosing a project?
I’m just looking for great stories that I can connect with and filmmakers with professionalism and integrity that I’m happy to spend the next few years with.

What are your expectations from the upcoming edition of Producers on the Move?
We have already had some great online sessions where we’re connecting with new peers and learning from their experiences. I’m also so grateful to be part of this network and for the exposure, because all of it feeds back to getting our movies made and helping our filmmakers bring their stories to life.

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