Queens of the Commonwealth

SPONSORS
Presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival
This production re-visits the unique journey of 22 women from various Commonwealth nations that due to life’s circumstances have migrated to Birmingham the second city. All these stories are at risk of being lost in time, and organisations like LGK are actively collecting these Hollywood life experiences to be shared with the queens to come….

A journey of Queens from the Commonwealth to Birmingham, reliving their unique stories and sharing their sacrifices with generations to come.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Panikos Panayiotou - Director and Producer

Panayiotis Panayiotou, also known as Panikos, was born in 1979 to parents Anastasia and Mihalis Panayiotou. Panikos began this whole journey into production with the publication Amathus to Birmingham (2016) inspired by his own parents who are also refugees from the 1974 Turkish invasion. ‘A2B’ as this project is known, documented the stories of families who moved from Cyprus to Birmingham. During this project it became apparent that the female perspective needed more attention and he was inspired to search deeper into the stories of the strong females in the community. This then inspired him to create his 1st documentary Queens of Amathus, and in his own words ‘due to the sacrifices of the Queens of yesterday, is the reason we live the life we live today’. Panikos is now an established documentary maker currently working on a series of projects which include ‘The Queens of the Commonwealth’ a celebration of migrant women from various backgrounds and their journey to the UK. He is also currently working on the sequel of Queens of Amathus re living the journey of Cypriot women from Cyprus to the rest of the world.

Lance Latchman - Director of Photography/Assistant Director

Lance Latchman is a full-time producer/director and has a great passion for transforming factual stories into captivating videos or film. Through his production company, Cue Card Productions, Lance empowers people and companies to share their stories, and leave a positive mark on the world.

Ben Robinson - Executive Producer

Ben is a BBC-trained multi award-winning media creative and entrepreneur who has worked on some of Britain’s most iconic TV shows. In 2000 he launched Birmingham indie Zebra Digital, creating award-winning series for British and global broadcasters. In 2017 Ben co-founded Coventry and Solihull-based media and theatre company STAMP CIC. The company disseminates primary academic research through innovative digital content and installations. Ben is a visiting lecturer at several universities in the Midlands including BCU, Derby and Birmingham. He also regularly speaks, chairs or produces sessions at media events. He has also been actively involved in initiatives to mentor young people and to support their work in the media industry.

Suzanne Virdee - Narrator

Suzanne is a well known news presenter and has worked for BBC and ITV for many years. She is from a migrant background and has a passion for sharing stories of those that have sacrificed their own dreams for us to have a better chance in life. IN her own words “When Panikos and Ben approached me and told me about this documentary I knew immediately I wanted to be involved”. Suzanne and his family came here from India in the late 50s. She grew up hearing stories of how their lives changed overnight, how they adapted to life in Birmingham, learned to ‘fit in’ and build a life for themselves, so the subject spoke to her personally but also as a journalist. Telling the stories of those whose voices are largely unheard is something I’m passionate about. Getting the chance to do that and hear from these amazing women has been a real privilege. It proves what I have always believed, that ordinary people have the most extraordinary stories to tell and the women featured in the Queen of the Commonwealth documentary are no exception.

Christina Savvas - Research lead

Christina is a journalist who was born in Birmingham to Cypriot parents. Her mother Kika came to England as a refugee in 1974 with her parents and eight siblings. Father Savva moved to the UK in the 60s when he was just a year old. She later gained employment at the Birmingham Mail and worked in various roles including investigative reporter and social media before being promoted to Senior Editor Customer for the West Midlands and Cheshire region. Although she has always been interested in her family history she regrets not asking her grandparents more questions before they died at young ages. The opportunity to work on Queens of Amathus was one that could not be missed.

Petros Kkolas - Production coordinator

Petros Kkolas is the Production Coordinator of the Queens Project. He is a Consultant Engineer. He studied Civil Engineering in Coventry University since his graduation he is employed by global engineering firms. Following his studies, Petros moved to Cyprus for 2 years and migrated to Birmingham in 2014, to begin his career in engineering consulting. He joined the documentary team in 2019 and supported in the organisation and planning of the Premiere in Cyprus, which was under the auspices of the Presidential Commissioner of the Diaspora, Mr Photis Photiou. Since 2020 is the Production Planner of the Queens of Amathus – The Journey Continues and Queens of Commonwealth. He is responsible for the planning of interviews and public relations of the projects. He is an active member of the secretariat of National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and he acts as the Media Liaison in Cyprus for the HandoffCyprus Campaign. He enjoys photography and creative writing.

Gabriel Timotheou - Photography/Social Media

Born and bred in Birmingham, I’m a 26 year old masters graduate with a passion for travel, adventure and all things photography. I love to immerse myself in the culture wherever I go. My goal is to showcase the scenes, moments and memories I capture, and share my unique perspective to you.

Bradfield Thomas - Media Asset Coordinator

Bradfield originally emigrated from South Africa to the UK in order to study filmmaking. Since arriving in this country Bradfield has co-founded his own media production company and worked on multiple documentary projects and a feature film. Bradfield is a passionate story-teller, and enjoys his craft.

Oliver Dupont - Media Asset Coordinator

Oliver is an aspiring artist and young film maker located in the heart of Birmingham. Graduate in Ba Art & Design Honours and current Masters Feature Film Development student, he is making his way through the creative landscape. Oliver has experience in film and documentary as well as freelancing in the world of Videography, photography and Graphic Design. Creating and sharing art is all he ever wants to do and Queens of the Commonwealth allows him to do so.

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