Golden Apricot 2012

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Golden Apricot: Yerevan hosting ninth edition of int’l film festival

By Gayane Mkrtchyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

A weeklong international film festival that began in Yerevan on Sunday is presenting a total of 170 feature, short feature films and documentaries, with 65 of them included in the competition program.

Prizes at the ninth edition of the Golden Apricot will be in four sections – feature films, documentaries, short films (a category called Stone) and Armenian films (Armenian Panorama).

On July 7 many representatives of the cinema world, who have arrived in Yerevan for the festival, attended the most spectacular part of the opening ceremony – the blessing of apricots at St. Zoravor Church.

(Apricot is held as a national fruit in Armenia, hence the name of the festival that takes place every year around mid-summer the time when apricots are ripe and in abundance).

The red-carpet ceremony for the official opening of Golden Apricot later that day took place in Yerevan’s Charles Aznavour Square near the Moscow Movie House – the main festival venue.

“Cinema is a worthy celebration for the city and the Armenian people, because during the nine years we have proved that Armenians are very fond of cinema art,” said filmmaker Harutyun Khachatryan, the founding director of Golden Apricot. “The young people who have grown up on the nine years of this festival have now themselves become full-fledged cinema professionals and present new films at various international festivals.”

As part of the festival opening ceremony two Parajanov’s Thaler prizes were awarded to noted Spanish director Victor Erice and Georgian filmmaker Eldar Shengelaya, respectively. The prizes were handed to the winners by Roman Balayan, a well-known Ukrainian-Armenian filmmaker who has been a much expected guest at the festival in Yerevan.

Twelve films are presented in the festival’s feature films section. Filmmaker Erice, a Cannes Festival prize winner, heads the jury to decide the winner in this category. As many as 39 short films are competing in the Stone section.

The Armenian Panorama competition, in which Armenian filmmakers present their films, features six full-length feature films, five short feature films and 15 documentaries.

Arsen Gasparyan, one of the filmmakers participating in the festival, presents a short film called “New Jugha: To Be…”. The film tells about the rich cultural heritage of Nor Jugha (New Julfa), the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran, where over 150,000 Armenians fleeing Ottoman persecutions in Jugha (Julfa) in Nakhichevan took refuge at the beginning of the 17th century.

“It portrays the Armenian community that has lived and created in Nor Jugha for more than 400 years, keeping its religion, church, school, as well as customs and traditions. Emigration is the focal point of the film,” says Gasparyan.

The characters of Vahe Yan’s “Two Roads” film are two deaf persons presented in their daily life. The filmmaker tries to give the audience a glimpse of the colorful world of the deaf.

Hayk Kbeyan’s film “Kostan Zaryan: The Lonely Soul of Armenian Literature” presents the image of the great writer and intellectual who was not understood by his contemporaries and has arguably not been fully appreciated in our own days either.

In addition to the competition program, the festival also presents films in other –“non-competitive” categories – “Yerevan Premieres”, “Retrospective Screenings” and “Tribute”.

The Book and Film program implemented on the occasion of UNESCO’s declaration of Yerevan as World Book Capital presents the screenings of works by Armenian and foreign classical and modern writers.

The festival will conclude with an exclusive show of Michael Haneke’s Love movie that won the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival this year.

Ralph Yirikian, General Manager of VivaCell-MTS, the festival’s main sponsor, praised the festival, calling it a means of raising Armenia’s prestige in the world.

“Artists come to Armenia every year for this festival and our country is becoming recognizable...this is the reason why we stand next to this festival, because we know well that every year this festival reaches higher levels,” said Yirikian.

Golden Apricot Film Festival Concludes

by Harout Ekmanian on July 17, 2012

YEREVAN, Armenia—Last weekend, the 9thGolden Apricot International Film Festival (GAIFF) wrapped up its weeklong activities that successfully showcased Armenian contributions to cinema while making strides in cultural exchanges.

The winners were announced by the jury during the glamorous closing ceremony at the Latar Hotel Complex in Yerevan. Belarusian director Sergei Lozintsa’s “In the Fog” won Best Feature Film and received the Golden Apricot by director Victor Erice, the head of the jury. Loznitsa’s film, which tells a story on the western frontiers of the USSR in 1942, competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.

The Silver Apricot was given to the Polish film “It Looks Pretty from a Distance” by director Anka Sasnal and his husband, painter Wilhelm Sasnal. Young Chilean director Jose Luis Torres won the Jury Special Prize for his film “Summertime,” which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival last year.

In the documentary films genre, “Five Broken Cameras” by Palestinian freelance cameraman and activist Emad Burnat won the Golden Apricot. The film is a guidebook for the origins of peaceful struggle against occupation. Burnat went through five cameras to make the film, all broken or smashed on different occasions by Israeli soldiers.

Russian director Aleksei Vakhrushev’s documentary about the indigenous Chukchi family inhabiting the magnificent landscape of Russia’s Arctic Circle won the Special Prize and got the Silver Apricot, while Georgian director Salome Jashi’s documentary “Bakhmaro” received the Jury Special Mention.

In the best Armenian Fiction Film category, “If Only Everyone” by Natalia Belyauskene won the Golden Apricot, and “Nana” by Valerie Massadian from France received the Silver Apricot.

In the Apricot Stone Competition, Brazilian director Eduardo Moroto’s short film “When We Die at Night” won the Golden Apricot, while “Insignificant Details of the Accidental Episode,” a short film by Mikhail Mesetsky from Russia, received the Jury Special Mention. A Kazakh and Japanese joint production film “The First Rains of Spring” by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov and Sano Shinju won the FIPRESCI Award (the acronym for the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique).

Natalia Belyauskene’s “If Only Everyone” starring well-known Armenian actor Michael Poghsoian won a second award during the festival when it received the Ecumenical Jury Award. “Future Lasts Forever” by Ozcan Alper from Hamshen (Turkey) received the Commendation Prize.

Suzanne Khardalian’s documentary about her genocide survivor grandmother, “My Grandma’s Tattoos,” won the Armenian National Film Academy Award. Cassiana Der Haroutiounian, Cesar Gananian, and Gary Gananian from Brazil won the British Council Award with their road movie “Armenian Rhapsody,” a juxtaposition of musical and narrative fragments with variations in theme, intensity, and tone.

Serbian director Goran Radovanovic’s film “With Fidel Whatever Happens” won the Armenian Filmmakers Union Award. Radovanovic’s film tells the story of a remote Cuban town, where the poor celebrations of the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban revolution mirrors the bleak future of the local residents. Finally, the Hrant Matevosyan Award went to Tigrane Avedikian from France for his short film “Bad Father.”

For the past several years, the festival has provided a perfect opportunity not only for cultural exchange of expertise, but also for partnership and cooperation between filmmakers of Armenia and the world. The most notable and groundbreaking achievement of this cooperation is evident in the level of regional participation, especially from Turkey. Enis Riza and Ozcan Alper were only some of the filmmakers who participated this year from Turkey, along with a group of Turkish journalist and film critics hosted by the festival.

The logo of the 9th edition of the Golden Apricot IFF was a comma, which looks like the number nine. It symbolizes a brief stop, but it’s not long before the 10th anniversary of the festival next year, which is going to be “the greatest event ever in the region,” according to Haroutyun Khachatryan, the director of GAIFF.

“We will mark the 10th Golden Apricot IFF the best way that can happen,” he added.