The undertaking of the Being an Islander documentary was the single most creative and original part of the 2021 engagement project, generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Research on the documentary’s content started in January 2021 with drafting the core ideas and case studies of the documentary’s content, followed by the recruitment of the production team. Dr Dimitrios Bouras, an acclaimed documentarist and photographer brings his expertise in anthropological filmmaking and is an active member of our research team.
The film benefits from the research advisory Board, comprising Dr Christophilopoulou (Archaeology) and Dr Bouras (Social Anthropology) as principal researchers, as well as Dr Nicholas Anastasopoulos (Architecture), Dr Christos Lynteris (Ethnoarchaeology), Dr Dimitrios Kostopoulos (Geology and Mineralogy) Dr Nikos Panagiotou (Journalism), Ms Maria Nadali, Mayor of Siphnos (sustainable development, modern insular identities), Dr Neal Spencer, Fitzwilliam Museum Deputy Director (integrating project work into wider museum collection perspectives) and Dr David Evans, Fitzwilliam Museum ( Fitzwilliam Museum exhibitions manager). The production team consisted of Dr Bouras (Executive producers and film director), Dr Christophilopoulou (narrator), Orestis Seferoglou (Camera/drone), Manos Makrigiannakis (Editor), Kostas Pappas (Art Director, Aesthetics), Amalia Symeonidou (Production Design) and Andriana Theochari (Script Supervisor, Assistant Producer).
The documentary investigates the theme of insularity as a social construct and as a form of social and cultural identity. We employ methodology from the fields of sensory archaeology and anthropology, experimental archaeology, and ethnographic approach to elucidate what defines island identities in the Eastern Mediterranean, a place where the European and the Asian-African bio-geographical history and evolution intersect, using a specific island, Siphnos, Cyclades, Greece as a ‘research model’.
Filming started in Cambridge 5-10 October 2021, with an array of interviews, including our Deputy Director for Collections and Research, Dr Neal Spencer, our Exhibitions manager, Dr David Evans and Professor Marcos Martinon-Torres of the Department of Archaeology & McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. It continued with the main filming event, which took place in various locations on the island of Siphnos, 19 November -7 December 2021. Filming on location included 8 case studies of key ancient monuments, and 7 interviews with experts in archaeology, anthropology, architecture, seafaring and mobility, as well as members of the local communities engaged in diachronic crafts and economies of the island (potters, stonemasons, former mine workers, farmers, shepherds), local artists and representatives of the island’s authorities (the mayor of Siphnos, heads of the education and cultural associations, etc).
We included several case studies, such as filming in the region of the ancient tower of Siphnos (‘phryctories’), a system of communication and signalling designed initially to protect the mining area of the island, but later also used to control agricultural landscapes, exemplifying the continuity of landscape use and resources in the island’s metalliferous regions. Another case study included filming at the Atsonios pottery workshop, which has been active for centuries, with the master potter describing his craft, resources, and long diachronic presence of Siphnian potters in the most engaging way. Pottery workshops, particularly those devoted to the manufacture of cooking pots has been a centuries old craft in Siphnos. The craft, entangled in the island’s connectivity, idiosyncrasies and its resources, made a perfect episode of our documentary.
The film is produced with the kind permission of the Ministry of Culture, Greece and is under the auspices of the Municipality of Siphnos, region of Cyclades.