by Sherif Awad
In the year 1970, Italian born director George P. Cosmatos (1941- 2005) traveled to Karmi in Cyprus along with Raquel Welsh and Richard Johnson to shoot the 1971 released drama Beloved (AKA Sin) along with an international cast and crew. It was a wonderful time as children, women and men living in Karmi went to participate in the filming of Beloved. Moreover, director Cosmatos and his producers succeeded to have some Cypriot funders who helped to bring the film to reality. However, the people of Karmi did not have the chance to see the film that was shot across their beautiful land and on the shores of their sea as an abrupt Turkish invasion of Cyprus occurred in the year 1974.
35 years later, Constantinos Patsalides, a documentary director from Nicosia the capital of Cyprus, decided to retell the story of the shooting of Beloved in a new nostalgic documentary he called Beloved Days. Patsalides studied at the department of Audio Visual Communication at Frederick University and, since 2001, he was working as a camera operator in various Cypriot television channels such as ANT1, MEGA, PLUS TV and CyBC as he covered news in Lebanon, Kenya and Somali. In 2011, Patsalides moved to filmmaking with the documentary Hope against Hopeless that participated in several film festivals in Cyprus, Spain, United Kingdom and Greece. In this debut, the director aimed to shed light at the illegal movement of economical immigrants and refugees from Syria. Iraq and Turkey heading to his island country Cyprus. The film showed shocking images of immigrants at the borders living between hope and hopelessness in a never-ending struggle and thrive for a better quality of life.
Beloved days has a more cheerful feeling. Shots, characterized by simplicity, focus on the faces of the characters, capturing their human dimension. The documentary’s atmosphere, moving between realism and fiction through the re-enacted scenes, brings out the color of a world of innocence and carelessness, while at the same time entering the inner world of the characters, and transmitting self-reflections upon their experiences.
As we mentioned, in Beloved, Greek Cypriots were supporting players and extras, across the splendid island whose beauty was showcased by cinematographer Marcello Gatti. The story focused on Orestes played by Richard Johnson who is returning to his village following an absence of 15 years, to receive a bequest from his recently deceased father, and where he promptly begins an affair with Elena (Raquel Welch), the wife of his long-time friend. Constantinos Patsalides was successful to get on camera some of the producers who helped during the production of Beloved. All of them kept a photo with Welch’s autographed signature. Patsalides tracked down in London Richard Johnson who was kind enough to travel again to Cyprus to attend a screening of Beloved, 34 years after its original production, for the Cypriots who could not see it because of the Turkish invasion. Marcello Gatti also as well spoke about his experience with Welch who was sometimes jealous from women behind the camera if they came elegant to the film set. Gatti was also responsible for Welch’s unconventional look in this film making her appear without makeup or hairdo in order for her to have an adequate and realistic look as a woman villager. Patsalides was lucky because both Marcello Gatti and Richard Johnson both passed away after their appearance in his documentary Beloved Days that premiered in Cyprus last August and in Alexandria Film Festival last week. The interviews then revealed that Beloved was never a hit when it was first released and George P. Cosmatos made more successful films like Rambo: First Blood Part II with Sylvester Stallone in 1985 and Tombstone with Kurt Russell in 1993. Released in 1997, Shadow Conspiracy with Charlie Sheen was Costmatos’ last film.