A documentary on underage drinking

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Film description

This is a film about alcohol, the myths and truths surrounding it and why we set up our children for failure.

Alcohol is relentlessly marketed by multinational corporations and directed at young people. Rapacious capitalism and the values it promotes help to make alcohol legal, freely available and socially acceptable. This is accompanied by a cult of glamour around self-destructive drug abuse. Young people are put under unparalleled pressure to live up to an image: to be cool, beautiful and sexy, thin, rich and successful. This is a factor in driving them to get out of it with drink. Poisoning themselves with alcohol and drugs is one aspect of the self-destructive era in which we live - the slow suicide that we seem engaged in as a race. Worse still, as uninformed parents we seem to be engaging in equally destructive behaviors at home, perpetuating old, stagnant habits that become the legacy for new generations.

320 000 young people worldwide aged 15-29 die annually from alcohol related causes (WHO 2014). The title for ‘world's heaviest drinkers’ goes to the EU, where consumption is almost double the world average, costing Europeans 155.8 billion each year. Underage drinking is associated with traffic accidents, injury and death, suicide and depression, missed classes and decreased academic performance, loss of memory, blackouts, fighting, property damage, date rape, and unprotected sex, which places youth at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, unplanned pregnancies and cancer. Globalization finds Cyprus in hibernation, entirely unequipped to deal with this rising problem. Cyprus is ranked 5th among 36 countries in the purchase of alcohol and 2nd in consumption of alcoholic beverages in bars, clubs etc (ESPAD 2011). Today, Cypriot teenagers rank 3rd in binge drinking in Europe (ESPAD 2016).

What is our relationship with alcohol today? What are we doing in Cyprus and abroad to stop this unprecedented trend that has become an epidemic? Are we going to see 10 year olds drinking in the next few years? Isn’t it time to rethink the way we view alcohol?

The film is set in Cyprus, a country relatively new to the underage drinking culture. The story follows 4 teenagers ages 15 – 18 for one year. They have been given a camera to film themselves, allowing us a glimpse into their social night life. International alcohol experts explain the medical and social implications of excessive underage drinking and share their knowledge on early interventions and good practices to reduce alcohol related harm. A discussion with Cyprus government officials will give us an inside into why there is government failure in implementing alcohol policy. A compilation of footage from movies, music videos, advertisements and art through the ages will reveal our cultural, social and biological connection to alcohol and the role it plays in our lives.

We, the adults, are the main protagonists. We are both the innocent bystanders and the villains. In the film we are represented by Empousa, a mythical ancient Greek demigoddess who is the narrator in the story. In myth she is a shape shifter. She has the ability to break through the human mental defenses. She seduces young people, drinks their blood and eats their flesh. Her particular traits perfectly mirror our attitudes and behaviors. In the film she is also a metaphor for the adult society that lures and pushes young people into substance abuse. She can be anthropomorphic or represented by inanimate objects. Her presence is always associated with the color red.

Empousa is not just a story about alcohol. Remove alcohol and replace it with drugs, guns, internet, food, cigarettes. It’s about the way we choose to view addiction and the never ending process of the victim becoming the villain.


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The Team

Elena Alonefti
Iakovos Haralambous
Charalampos Theopemptou
Jez Gaydon
Sophia Tsangaridou
Damien Heraclides

Jez Gaydon

Jez Gaydon is an experienced writer for television and radio. His comedy series The Green Room was broadcast on BBC Radio. He has written for Channel 4’s digital multiplex, is currently writing/ executive producing a number of documentaries with British production company Broadstroke, including projects on the search for the real King Arthur, the location of Captain Kidd’s Treasure, and the legacy of Professor TC Lethbridge. Jez is the Line Producer and one of the film writers.

Elena Alonefti

Elena was born in the occupied city of Famagusta, one of the ghost cities of the world. She worked for 22 years in the film and television industry, both in the US and Cyprus, on documentaries, PSAs, live TV programs, advertisements, corporate videos, and instructional films. For the last eight years she is working on awareness documentaries and PSAs and she frequently creates pro-bono videos for advocate groups, communities, non-profit organizations, and companies. Elena is the Director and Producer of Empousa which is her first creative documentary.

Iakovos Haralambous

Iakovos Haralambous is the owner and director of ‘ResetFilms’ a company dedicated to the production of commercials, video clips, documentaries and corporate videos. Reset Films is co-producer of Empousa and Iakovos is the DOP and a co-editor. Iakovos has more than 20 years experience in the film industry as a director, producer, DOP and editor.

Charalampos Theopemptou

Charalampos is a member of the Cyprus Parliament and his extensive experience as Environment Commissioner and with environmental organizations adds another dimension to the team. His connections with the political and business world, his knowledge of the inner workings of government departments and understanding of government budgets as well as his extensive knowledge of our laws make him an invaluable member for our team. Charalampos is our Associate Producer, our “funding guru” and our advisor on government policies, practices and laws.

Sophia Tsangaridou

Sophia is an Academic specialized in Media Management and Production. Besides teaching at the University of Nicosia she is also involved in the creation of audiovisual productions for internal projects as well as for clients outside the University. Sophia is the Production Manager of Empousa.

Damien Heraclides

Damien holds a degree in Communications and works as a filmmaker. He is one of the film’s cinematographers and his experience with filming night clubs as part of his job has been invaluable to the film project. He was chosen by the EU to represent Cyprus at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in the promotional section.

Dora Fitikidou Schabel

Dora is Assistant Producer and researcher for Empousa as well as a co-editor. She holds a degree in Communications in Television Production. Dora worked as an editor, researcher and story developer for television programs and documentaries.



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