Hayfilm

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HAYFILM (Armenfilm) SOLD TO ARMENIASTUDIOUS FOR 350 MLN DRAMS

YEREVAN, AUGUST 11, NOYAN TAPAN. Armeniastudios CJSC, 100% of whose shares belongs to the television company Armenia, was announced the winner of the tender for alienating the property of the Hayfilm Studio after Hamo Beknazarian. Summarizing the tender results on August 11, Chairman of the Tender Commission, Head of the State Property Management Department Ashot Markosian stated that that the company met the tender requirements, in particular it offered 350 mln drams (795 thousand USD), which exceeds the minimum price by about 83 mln drams, and pledged to make investments of 30 bln drams within the next 10 years. According to the president of the television company Armenia Bagrat Sargsian who represented the company's interests, major repairs of the building and its furnishing, as well as installation of modern equipment will be done over the next two years. It is also envisaged to restore all the films kept in Hayfilm's storehouses within a year.


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"ARMENFILM" TO BE COMPLETELY REPAIRED WITHIN 2 YEARS

YEREVAN, August 12, 2005. /ARKA/. The "Armenfilm" studio will be completely repaired and brought to conformity with international standards within two years, the new Armenfilm owner, President of the CS MEDIA CITY holding Bagrat Sargsyan told reporters. "We will install up-to-date equipment at Armenfilm, which will allow the viewers to see all the films shot by the studio in restored or digital versions," Sargsyan said. According to him, film production will be possible as well. Sargsyan reported that most of the studio staff members will take retraining courses in Armenia and abroad. "`Armenfilm' is not only a film studio, but also the embodiment of traditions of Armenian cinema," he said. Sargsyan stressed that al traditions of Armenian cinema will be upheld despite technical re-equipment of the studio. Responding to a question about the principal share-holder of the SC MEDIA CITY holding, Sargsyan said that the holding is owned by Gerard Cafesjian and the Sargsyan family, ruling out the possibility of two share-holders.

The "Armenfilm" studio has been sold for AMD 350mln to the "Armenio Studios" CJSC, which is part of the "CS MEDIA CITY" holding. P.T. -0--


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LIGHTS, CAMERA, AUCTION: ARMENIA PRIVATIZES A HISTORIC FILM STUDIO. WILL IT HELP REVIVE THE RICH CINEMA TRADITION OF THE CAUCASUS? By Tom Birchenough

Moscow Times Aug 26 2005

As Russia waits for any real development in transferring parts of its film industry into private hands -- the partial privatization of Moscow's Gorky Film Studio, announced this spring and heralded as the first step in that process, has been indefinitely postponed -- other countries in the region are pressing ahead, in an effort to reinvigorate local film industries as well as to attract international productions.

In 2004, private investors took ownership of the Vilnius-based Lithuanian Film Studio, and last month, Armenia headed in a similar direction. Yerevan's historic Armenfilm, founded in 1923 and long part of the rich film tradition of the Caucasus, passed into the hands of the well-connected local media group CS Media City, or CSMC, and its subsidiary Armenia Film Studios, for the sum of 350 million drams (just over $750,000).


Cinema in the Caucasus has always straddled the present-day national borders, and though Armenia has a considerable reputation in film, it's often been dwarfed by neighboring Georgia, where directors, especially those from the generation of the 1950s and 1960s, earned particular fame.

For instance, Armenfilm is named in honor of Amo Bek-Nazarov, a Soviet actor and director whose career began before the Bolshevik Revolution. Although of Armenian descent, Bek-Nazarov played a major role in Georgian silent film, and one of his best known works, "Pepo" from 1935, unfolds in 19th-century Tiflis, though it features an almost exclusively Armenian cast. Boundaries are further blurred by the fact that Georgia's state film production body, Goskinprom, actually started in Baku, now the capital of Azerbaijan.

National loyalties are relative, indeed: One of Yerevan's most prominent museums may honor Sergei Paradzhanov, the censored and once-imprisoned creator of Soviet-era classics such as "Color of Pomegranates," who died in the city in 1990, but the director rarely worked in the country and is more often linked to Georgia and Ukraine.

Over the last decade, as Armenia went through war and dire poverty, the situation took a distinct turn for the worse. Armenfilm's peak output of up to 10 feature films a year during the 1970s and 1980s dropped to almost nothing. In 2004, its state budget funding was a mere $600,000.

Now, despite its august history and continuing difficulties, priorities for the newly privatized studio look more than up-to-date, especially in promoting lower-budget production using digital filming equipment, which could give greater flexibility to the studio's new management by removing the need for difficult laboratory processing. "Digital cinematography ... [offers the] possibility to reduce the gap between countries with extremely developed film industries and countries where annually only a couple of movies are being shot," wrote Edgar Baghdasaryan, the director of Armenia Film Studios, in an online statement.

Progress should certainly be helped by the fact that the venture is supported by two highly influential figures in Armenia, with friendly links to the country's president, Robert Kocharyan. Local businessman Bagrat Sargisyan is working alongside philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian, a U.S. citizen of Armenian descent who opened a brand-new arts center in Yerevan last year. The two also control three local television stations.

Though the price of the deal may look on the low side, CSMC has pledged to invest as much as $66 million in the studio over the next 10 years. In addition, it has promised to support four new local feature films a year, as well as associated short-film and animation work. The first fruits of the media company's work, in the form of two local productions, "Arshile" and "Mariam," are already under way.


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