Country and nationality

Born England, raised Cyprus, Cypriot citizenship

Professional role in the film industry

Director and writer

Years of experience in the film industry

11 years

Maria Varnakkidou

Maria always loved the theatre. She used to do dancing for 13 years when she was younger and she used to watch theatre and cinema. Maria went to the UK to study dance, but she didn’t like the “atmosphere” so she left within a year. Then, she studied Modern drama and even though it was difficult and she was thinking about leaving, one professor believed in her and she went and pursued theatre directing. Maria finished her studies in the UK for Theatre Directing. After, she came back to Cyprus and casted for a film. After that she organized drama workshops and then she received some funding and she managed to make a film.


  • personal e.g., being ostracized by her peers and most of her professors, bullied in her studies.
  • professional e.g., lack of confidence, lack of role female models, lack of clear career paths, lack of professional support, clear colleagues’ opposition, system in Cyprus is not helpful, industry is not appreciated in Cyprus, lack of preparation for study in another country etc.

Overcoming Obstacles 

Maria managed to find a professor who inspired her to follow directing and not give up. She also kept being consistent and believing in her abilities, therefore, she managed to have a stable job and the rest of the time she focused on her directing and on finding opportunities where she would get funded. Also, after some time she found people in Cyprus who believed in her abilities.


Take risks to move forward but also be responsible, “because you’re working with other people and you don’t know if something will come out in the end. That’s why the most important thing for me is to let the other person have their own space.”  Also, one must have patience.



The WIFILM Case Study Library will provide VET providers, females interested in developing a career within the industry, or those working alongside females in the industry with a series of case studies on successful women in the film industry. The Case Study Library will highlight the barriers to entry for females in the industry, including deficits in role models, confidence, and career planning.

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.