Student & Graduate Profiles

Anna Kannava

Her story is about what is possible when the door is opened

anna 2005Anna was born in Cyprus and grew up dreaming of being an artist. Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, her single mother brought her and her brothers to Australia. She completed her secondary schooling while learning English and trying to assimilate. She got into the drama course at Rusden, (amalgamated into Deakin University in 1992). She had no special support programs or assistance, she masked her lack of English, she tried to be like Aussie kids and she out shone everyone. At Rusden she discovered filmmaking.

In 1985 Anna won a grant from the Australian Film Commission (AFC) to make a film about being torn between 2 places and 2 identities. The film, '10 years After, 10 Years Older' was sold to SBS and won awards including the ATOM 'Best Film Award' in 1987. She then set out to make a feature film but in her early 30s she was diagnosed with the debilitating condition, Scleroderma. It hardened her joints and skin so she could barely move, depleted her organ functions and left her permanently in pain and utterly exhausted.

Anna's commitment to making films never waivered. She battled through the physical limitations and made the astonishingly personal and honest documentary, 'The Butler'. This film is about her family and especially her brother, Nino who has dedicated his life to looking after his older sister. He calls himself 'Anna's butler'. The film was presold to the ABC and was nominated in the 1997 AFI awards as the Best Documentary.

As each year passed, her physical condition got worse. By the early 2000s she was a skeleton and only able to move around for short periods each day. In 2004, against advice, she made a feature film 'Dreams for Life'. This was well received critically, theatrically released and accepted into festivals world wide. She had to be supported by a nurse and medical treatment on set each day to get through the effort of making the film and it made her condition worse, but she was determined to do it again. While working on more scripts and ideas, she also wrote novels. Then she embarked on the maddest and most insane venture imaginable - to anyone except for Anna. In 2007 she took an actor and a small grant of money and went to Paris, without any contacts or detailed plan, and made a love story, 'Kissing Paris'.

In 2010, her first novel was accepted for publication and then she was diagnosed with lung cancer (she had never smoked). She knew that she had no capacity to undergo treatment and recover, but she never stopped dreaming and planning the next film.

Anna cherished her education. It got her out of the circumstances she faced as a migrant girl without any connections into the world of art and film in Australia. Her story is about what is possible when the door is opened. She took every advantage of what she learnt and the connections and networks that opened up to her through her course. Anna's story is about the importance of tertiary education for migrants.

For Anna's filmography and further information

Anna Kannava Scholarship

The Anna Kannava Scholarship has been established in Anna's memory to support a young migrant woman, who like Anna, dreams of being an artist.


Donations to the scholarship can be made

Branch Number: 013644
Account Number: 314103416
Bank Name: ANZ BANK
Bank Address: Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre Pioneer Road, Waurn Ponds, Victoria
Reference: M12 and your name

Telephone the Deakin University Cashier's Office on 03 52271145 Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm and give them your credit card details and quote the reference 'Item Code M12'

anna 1980 anna 1985

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