DER Documentary

Dead Presumed Missing?


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By Colette Piault & Paul Sant Cassia
color, 40 min, 2003




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Between 1963-74, about 2000 Turkish and Greek Cypriots disappeared during hostilities between the two communities of Cyprus. Following an abortive coup in 1974, Turkey invaded and occupied the north of the island. 200,000 Greek Cypriots, a third of the population, fled their homes, becoming refugees in the south.

During the Turkish invasion, many died in the war, but their bodies were never recovered. Others (including women and children) vanished behind the advancing Turkish army. To this day, Turkey refuses to offer any explanations. The fate and whereabouts of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots missing remains an official secret.

In the confusion of 1974, some, but not all, of the missing Greek Cypriots were buried hurriedly on the Greek side. The return of the remains of the rest cannot be realized since they are behind Turkish lines. In spite of various attempts at resolution, including a UN Committee, both sides still guard the unidentified hidden bones of each others' missing persons

The film was shot in 2001 when the possibility of DNA identifiication redefined the problem and gave it a new urgency. By following the desperate attempts of two Greek women to discover the fates of their loved ones, the film explores the signficance of mortuary rituals and the different political lives of dead bodies among the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Useful in Political Anthropology classes, and to those interested in ethnic violence, recuperation, memory, rituals, DNA identification, and politics of the body.

“The film raises important questions about the state politicisation of the dead, and of the bereaved, and it also by implication raises questions about how far manipulated suffering becomes a kind of media-oriented public ritual... it tackles a sensitive and difficult subject with commendable seriousness. When taken with Paul Sant Cassia's forthcoming monograph, Heirs of Antigone, it will make a very important teaching package with resonances for many other societies where intercommunal state-managed violence has been a feature.” — Professor Peter Loizos, London School of Economics Visual Anthropology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2005

Bodies of Evidence: Memory, Burial and the Recovery of Missing Persons in Cyprus. Berghahn Books, United Kingdom, 2004

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
8th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, July 2003
Salonica Documentary Market, Greece, 2004
International Ethnographic Film Festival, Moscow, Russia, 2004
Astra Film Festival, Sibiu, Romania, 2004
Visual Culture Film Festival, Joensuu, Finland, 2000

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