By Jean Criss
NYWIFT member Petra Terzi is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning film producer. She has produced concerts, performances, and film festivals with an emphasis on cultures, human rights, and the arts.
For the last 20 years, Terzi has presented the best of the arts in Greece and Cyprus, including Cirque Le Masque, Kevin Costner, Michael Bolton, Cristina Hoyos and the Andalusian Ballet , Dulsori-Taiko Drummers, Julio Bocca, and the Inaki Urlezaga.
Petra is a cofounder of Women in Film and Television Cyprus, an organization promoting change and networking opportunities for female artists. In the near future, Terzi looks forward at hosting an international symposium in Cyprus, dedicated to serving women in the international film workplace.
Petra Terzι established a charitable corporation, CIF-Cultural International Festivals, offering new filmmakers exposure, live platforms, and film production in the United States and Europe. She is also a member of the Association of European Journalists.
Petra founded both the Cyprus Int’l Film Festival– CYIFF (2006) and the Bridges Int’l Film Festival in Greece (2008); each promotes gender equality in film. CYIFF focuses on international women, drama, refugees, genocide, dance, arts, independent filmmakers, and diversity. The Bridges International Film Festival is held in two cities, Nafplio and Loutraki in Corinthia, Greece, and focuses on world cinema.
Petra, what inspired you to start your career in film?
I started as a volunteer, organizing charity film events for AHEPA-American Hellenic Educational Organization. After 9/11, a Hollywood producer and colleague could not return home from Greece. I invited him to spend time in Cyprus and showed him the island for potential shooting locations. He suggested I organize a film festival in Cyprus and so I did this on a volunteer basis for the next five years and learned much about film production. I made the transition to filmmaking and created a film festival production company.
I was inspired to incorporate social issues and human-interest stories as the foundation for my company. Through the festivals and my work as a filmmaker, I always try to promote Hellenistic values and history. I would like to involve Greece as a co-production country for international film projects. In addition to the natural light, sea and mountains, Greece and Cyprus also offer great incentives to filmmakers.
What can you tell us about your current work including film productions and other projects?
The Studio – To Belong to Yourself, is a proof of concept for a feature film selected at the 69th Cannes Short Film Corner. 49 Years After – Above Limits, 49 Years After- The Gifted, and Roses Trilogy are short films that focus on refugees, the disabled, and diversity. She Should Run – Cyprus, is a documentary concerning women’s empowerment, human rights, diversity, and war victims, inspired by women and politics within Cyprus local communities.
I believe women of all political leanings, ethnicities, and backgrounds should have an equal opportunity to lead through elected office. Democracy will benefit from diverse perspectives and experiences that women bring to leadership.
What do you love most about your job producing film festivals?
My ability to reach professional women and internationally acclaimed independent filmmakers across many genres. During the last two years of lockdown, I had ample time to think holistically about how to bring filmmakers, artists, and audiences together. So, we created the platform inspire-tv.com that hosts festivals, like our festivals in Greece and Cyprus, and offer international distribution (with geo-blocking) to independent filmmakers and artists. CYIFFF Awards (below).
How has your role shifted from in-person to hybrid to virtual post-pandemic events?
In October 2020, we launched our first hybrid event. The next event was [fully] virtual. We resumed in-person events in the summer of 2021; now I will continue to offer both. Audience attendance exceeds 1000 people during a five-day program where we screen 100 international films, a masterclass, and the CinemaLab Pegasus. We can tell now that the in-person experience is very important to create trust and continuity in business.
Petra Terzi studied Business Administration, Classical Studies, Life Coaching, Film Direction, Writing and Film Production. Petra’s films (2016-2019) have been selected in over 80 Festivals. She’s received a Master’s in Digital Video Production from Cyprus University and has won international awards as a finalist in over 15 Film Festivals. She is a visiting professor at Communication University of China in Nanjing and Laikon University in Athens, Greece, a member of Greek Directors Guild, Cyprus Directors Guild and NYWIFT (Women in Film and Television in New York). She is a jurist at the Jaipur International Film Festival and founder of the chapter Women In Film and Television in Cyprus (CYWIFT 2020). Petra is a member of CYWIFT Cyprus, Actors Alliance, Career Focus, Communications, Development, Fund for Women Filmmakers, International, Membership, New Works Lab, Programming, Special Events, Women’s Film Preservation Fund, and Writers Group, also a member of the Association of European Journalists. Learn more about Petra’s work on her website.
Terzi’s new films in development are:
Kanela, first feature film (script and direction), takes place between 1922 – 1965, focus on Armenian refugees and immigrants, a woman’s story about love, loss and determination with Greek-Spanish-French coproduction, commencing production October 2023.
I am Nana, a powerful documentary about a girl who overcame several palsy to become a star performer in Greece.
Action Through Arts, a documentary about healing trauma involving dance and art, filmed in Cyprus, Greece and Spain. The process involves a 30-month program, including a workshop ’Training of Trainees’ in Cyprus, a workshop and visual artistic residency in Greece, and a workshop and final performance in Mallorca, Spain to be completed by 2025.
‘New Talent Festival – The Performance of your Life!’, a theatre/ concert /dance charity series presently seeking partners and performers. Interested participants contact Petra.
Cynthia Lowen’s latest documentary "Battleground" offers an eye-opening window into the anti-choice movement, featuring three women from varying walks of life who have dedicated themselves to rendering abortion illegal. Per the Tribeca website: “Told with restraint and balance, director Cynthia Lowen seeks to clarify rather than condemn, and presents a new point of entry for this challenging topic.” While the film itself clearly aligns with progressive pro-choice advocates (who also appear throughout) it offers a fascinating perspective on the sheer systemic power of the anti-abortion movement and the perilous future, felt painfully today, of Roe v. Wade. "Battleground" was Executive Produced by NYWIFT member Ruth Ann Harnisch and co-produced by member Steffie van Rhee, who sat down with us to discuss the premiere and how this film – from this particular perspective – came to fruition.READ MORE
Violet Du Feng’s "Hidden Letters" tells the story of Chinese women trying to balance their lives as independent women in modern China while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Connected through their love for Nushu—a centuries-old secret text shared amongst women—each of them transforms through a pivotal period of their lives and takes a step closer to becoming the individuals they know they can be. Hot off her 2022 Tribeca Festival premiere, Director Violet Du Feng, an Emmy-award winning documentarian, spoke to us about Nushu, modern-day China, women’s equality, and her filmmaking process.READ MORE
We kick off our Tribeca coverage with a conversation with Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and VP of Programming! Cara previews exciting changes to this year's festival - including a new name! - as well as some special appearances and events.READ MORE
NYWIFT and USA Local 829 member Naomi Wolff Lachter has designed the costumes for feature films, dozens of plays and musicals, and assistant designed on several major TV series. Every day she is on the job, Naomi posts a motivational saying from her whiteboard on her Instagram account, @wolffie78. She offered us insight into her philosophy – and why good vibes are contagious.READ MORE