My Heart Belongs To… 100 years of Turkish Cypriot Migration to the UK

“My Heart Belongs to – 100 Years of Turkish Cypriot Immigration to the UK” in partnership with the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations. 

Mitch and I screened “Life is a Destiny” at a summer party for other Turkish Cypriots at the house of Argun Imamzade in the summer of 2017. The film tells the story of how Argun’s house was bombed in the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots following independence from Britain in 1960. After some months in a refugee camp, and a very interrupted education, Argun, aged 13, and his older brother sailed to England to join their parents. Argun carried with him a family photograph album, going back several generations. He had hidden it behind a metal cabinet when the house was being bombed and then rescued it from the rubble.

Following the screening the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations asked us to produce a film to celebrate 100 years of Turkish Cypriot migration to the UK. Mitch and I, supported by Itteshad on the camera, travelled to the homes and workplaces of people living both north and south of the Thames. We unearthed a rich archive of memories and photographs – of happy childhoods in Cyprus but also of participating in war and conflict, of travelling to the UK, finding work, encountering racism, establishing homes and starting families. These are some of the images from that filming. 

A group of people standing in a library

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Teyfik Zeki, his son and daughter in Teyfik’s accountancy office in north London

A couple of people that are standing in the grass

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Eithne interviewing Kazim Altan about his love of gardening in his home in north London

A couple of people that are standing in a room

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Eithne interviewing Nesrin Sitki – Watch that cat!

The film “My Heart Belongs to – 100 Years of Turkish Cypriot Immigration to the UK” was screened at the V&A in December 2017 to a packed lecture theatre of over 300 people and then later in a separate lecture theatre to about 150 mainly Turkish Cypriots. The event was greatly helped by Janet Browne from the V&A but also the work of Selda Ziya and Leyla Kemal, chair of CTCA. Children and grandchildren of people who had experienced the conflicts in Cyprus were grateful to understand more about what their parents and grandparents had gone through. The day, the film screenings and the follow up discussions were a great success. 

We got some great feedback about the film: 

My husband and I watched it and we just loved it! You’ve both done a wonderful job of capturing their stories in a relaxed, inviting, yet moving format. 

Great work.

Selda Ziya, committee member of CTCA

We got one comment from a BBC Turkish journalist to whom we sent footage. 

 Congratulations again for the documentary “100 Years of Migration”, it was a pleasure for us to participate to the event.

We would like to ask you some scenes from the documentary for our video piece.

It would be great if you can send us the scenes where the migrants laugh or share sentimental stories. For example, the last scenes where they were saying “London is our home” or “My heart is still at Cyprus” were very strong.

Özge Özdemir

Broadcast Journalist

BBC Turkish