Distinguished Armenian filmmakers, actors, screenwriters and producers include Sergei Parajanov,Henrik Malyan, Atom Egoyan, Rouben Mamoulian, Mikael Vardanov, Artavazd Peleshian, Steven Zaillian, Cher, Vigen Chaldranian, Charles Aznavour, Howard Kazanjian, Roman Balayan, Karen Shakhnazarov, Edmond Keosayan,Amo Bek-Nazarov,Michael Poghosian,Levon Mkrtchyan ,Sevada,Sergey Danielyan and a few others. The greatest Armenian film, regarded as one of the most important masterpieces of the 20th century, is undoubtedly Sergei Parajanov's "Sayat Nova" also known as "The Color of Pomegranate(s)". Other undisputed classics of Armenian cinema (produced in Armenia) that gained international attention are also Bek-Nazarov's silent "Pepo" (1935), Parajanov's short documentary "Hakob Hovnatanian" (1967), Peleshian's short documentary "The Seasons" (1975), Mkrtchyan feature "Zoravar Andranik" a film about the great Armenian General ,who was the national hero of Armenia, Vardanov's feature documentary "Parajanov: The Last Spring" (1992), Dovlatian's feature "Hello it's me" (1966), Mkrtchyan's feature "Tango of our childhood" (1985) and Gennadi Melkonian's short comedy "The Mulberry Tree" (1979). Distribution of Armenian movies has been somewhat limited due to a small market of Armenian speakers, Soviet Union's censorship and lack of financing. Most Armenian films have been produced by the state studio Hayfilm during the Soviet era. After independence, production dropped catastrophically but a recent privatization (2005) may change that.
"The Priestess" (2007) Armenia / USA | 109 minutes by director Vigen Chaldranian, co-production of ArmenFilm Studios and Symphony Studios, producers Mel Metcalfe and Sahak Ekshian, stars Rouzan Vit Mesropyan.
"After a near fatal accident in present day Armenia, a woman suffering with amnesia begins to remember a life that occurred many centuries ago. The childhood spent in an enchanted solitude. The father she adores. The husband she worships. The son she would sacrifice everything for…And the fate that would shape the history of her nation."
"The Priestess," written by Chaldranian and renowned Armenian screenwriter Anahit Aghasaryan, draws inspiration from "an anonymous woman" recorded in the mysterious Fourth Century manuscript 'The History" by Armenian historian Agathangelos. This unknown, yet consequential woman, becomes the keystone to Armenia's history as the first nation to accept Christianity.
"Parajanov: The Last Spring" (1992) Mikael Vardanov's influential documentary film, winner of Armenia's only Russian Academy Award, as well as the Golden Palm Award of the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Golden Gate Award of the San Francisco International Film Festival. http://www.parajanov.com/lastspring.html
Lighter than Air
Armenia | 2000 | b&w | 102 mins | dir. Tigran Xmalian, with Vladimir Msrian, Hrach Harutunian, Anush Khorenian
Xmalian's charming feature is a surreal, bittersweet love story on his homeland and culture. Moving from the 1960s to the `90s and centred around the iconic figure of a clown who was loved by Armenian audiences, Pierlequin creates a world of tenderness and magic among the challenges facing contemporary Armenia.
"Gariné Torossian Artists' Film Programme"
Short Films Programme | 90 mins
Toronto-based Gariné Torossian will present a selection of her strikingly multi-layered shorts. Like Egoyan, Torossian's work is informed by migration and she has turned to experimental film-making to conjure the primary forces of the Armenian diaspora.
Armenia / France / Italy / Switzerland | 2003 | col | 89 mins | dir. Hiner Saleem, with Romen Avinian, Lala Sarkissian, Ivan Franek | cert. PG
A laconic love story focused on a solitary widower and a woman tending a roadside bar, Vodka Lemon is a droll and charming hymn to endurance and fellowship, building its off-centre world calmly and steadily, much in the manner of Otar Iosseliani.
Canada / Armenia / Germany | 1993 | col | 74 mins | dir. Atom Egoyan, with Atom Egoyan, Arsinée Khanjian, Ashot Adamian | cert. 15
Provocatively, Egoyan takes the lead role in this fascinating meditation on relationships - to one's lover, country, history, memory and to images. A witty, playful and always intriguing exploration of his abiding themes, this was, before Ararat, Egoyan's most explicitly `Armenian' feature.
"Armenian National Cinema"
A broad consideration of the unique qualities of Armenian cinema, both within the country and diaspora, and reflections on its place in soviet and world cinema, and on the difficulties facing contemporary production in the country. With Armenian cinema specialist Nora Armani, film-makers Gariné Torossian and Tigran Xmalian and film critic Artsvi Bakhchinyan. Moderator: Gareth Evans, editor of Vertigo magazine and festival co-programmer.
Short Films Programme | 120 mins
Among the most astonishing short works in the history of cinema, the profoundly intense films of Artavazd Pelechian are visionary examinations of human and cosmic themes. Largely wordless and rhythmic, they are edited with a mastery of scale and rhythm which makes all life on earth swarm and bloom through the celluloid.
"Return to the Promised Land"
Armenia | 1991 | b&w & col | 80 mins | dir. Harutiun Khachatryan
Katchatryan's audacious film is a strikingly photographed study of an Armenian farmer and his family surviving in a harsh landscape in an abandoned, snow-clad village. As the first crops come to life, the village children smile again and dance to the tunes of the visiting tightrope walkers and musicians. However, danger still lurks in the distance...
2 short films:
"Lux Aeterna" & "Terra Emota"
France | 1999 | b&w & col | 10 mins each | both dir. Levon Minasian and Serge Avedikian
Impressionistic dispatches from the fault line: an earthquake in 1988 devastated Gyumri, Armenia's second city. Levon Minasian was in the city at the time and caught the destruction on film. Ten years later, he returns to find a city still dealing with the legacy of such a disaster.
Armenia / France / UK | 1995 | col | 93 mins | dir. Harutiun Khachatryan and Nora Armani, with Nora Armani, Gerald Papasian, Armen Djigarkhanian
A stage couple from the Armenian diaspora travel the world performing a play about their national identity and history. Shot on location with its real-life protagonists, Last Station skillfully mixes documentary and fiction to explore love, exile and the artistic dilemma of belonging.
"Color of Pomegranates" (aka Sayat Nova)
Armenia / USSR | 1969 | col | 78 mins | dir. Sergei Parajanov, with Sofiko Chiaureli, Melkon Aleksanyan, Vilen Galstyan | Director's Cut | cert. 12A
Paradjanov's extraordinary film, unique in world cinema, is a visual poem loosely inspired by the life and death of Armenian poet-troubadour Sayat Nova. A work of astonishing beauty, mystery and dreamlike authority.
"Ararat, Genocide Remembrance and Armenian Cinema" A consideration of the legacy of the Armenian genocide and its cinematic incarnations. Is it even possible to represent such a vast and traumatic subject on film? With Nouritza Matossian (biographer of Arshile Gorky and consultant to Ararat), critic Artsvi Bakhchinyan, genocide historian Ara Sarafian and Nora Armani. Moderator: Gareth Evans.
"Ararat" Canada / France | 2002 | col | 115 mins | dir. Atom Egoyan, with Arsinée Khanjian, Charles Aznavour, Elias Koteas, Marie-Josée Croze | cert. 15 Perhaps Egoyan's most personal work, this multi-layered examination of the legacy of genocide is a dramatic and intriguing hall of mirrors, in which history and memory, reality and fiction all prove unpredictable and fluid.
West Germany | 1988 | b&w & col | 96 mins | dir. Don Askarian, with Samuel Ovasapian, Onig Saadetian, Margarita Woskanjan
A portrait of the great Armenian composer who was traumatised into silence following the 1915 Genocide, Komitas is an episodic and poetic meditation that seeks to find a visual language, somewhere between Tarkovsky and Paradjanov, to convey the suffering of an entire people.
"And There Was Light - 1700years of Christian Armenia,Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, narration by Sos Sargsyan It also was acted in Andrey Tarkovsky, Hayk Studio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aESqYboFpD0&feature=related
Armenia | 2004 | b&w | 99 mins | dir. by Tigran Xmalian
In Xmalian's latest lyrical feature, an odd young couple - a nurse and a street musician - meet first as the witnesses of accident. Troubles pursue them and they decide to challenge fate in an extraordinary way - by giving birth to a new God. Dialogue-free, the film is threaded through with the music of Prokofiev.
"Exhibitions in the Foyer"
Film-maker Gariné Torossian will exhibit stunning colour images from her multi-layered films and Ann Doherty will show her photographs of people and landscapes from contemporary Armenia.
by filmmaker Tina Bastajian
Bastajian's 29-minute "Garden Dwelling" is an oblique travel diary, recounting four Armenians' visit to eastern Turkey in 2003. The film doesn't cover their daily itinerary or major sights, but rather the spaces in between: the awkward translations, the mystifying exchanges, and the unspoken tensions that still linger across a closed border.
by Zohrap Bek-Gasparent
`Arakel', a fictional film about the Armenian Genocide, premiered October 15, 2005 in Yerevan's Moscow cinema.
Other films of note
- A Trip to Karabakh - Georgian movie about Georgians going to Karabakh to buy marijuana.
- Death List - Kung Fu movie by an Armenian
- "The Priestess," Movie Armenian film by director Vigen Chaldranian and producers Mel Metcalfe and Sahak Ekshian
- Armenian Cinema
- HayLife.ru - Armenian films, cartoons, documentary films about Genocide (Russian)
- Armenian actors and models talent agency CASTING.AM