(armenian film director, producer)
Sevada | Filmography:
1. "As a Beginning" starring Sergey Danielyan 2. "Mikosh" starring Ofelia Zakaryan 3. "The Rope" starring Michael Poghosian 4. "Three Colors in Black & White" starring Harut Kbeyan 5. "The Last Troubadour" coming late 2010
Sevada | Short Biography:
Sevada (Artak Grigorian), born in Armenia on July 23rd, 1972. Studied violin, piano, woodwind instruments at the local music school. In 1990 emigrated to United States of America, where in 1997 graduated from CSUN University, majoring in Music Composition and Graphic Design. Has released 3 Compact discs of original music, titled “Palpitation of Soul" (1995), “Years of Solitude" (1998), “Disconnected" (2000), exclusively distributed by Garni Records (BMI).
In 1998 founded Sevada Productions,llc. under which executed many multimedia and advertising packages for various artists, companies, creative firms, combining his knowledge in computer animation, flash web animation and programming, television commercials, infomercials, graphic design, professional photography and more. More can be found at www.sevada.com
In 2005 started the filming of the first of Sevada Film Trilogy called “Mikosh”, later to be concluded with the films “As a Beginning” and “The Rope”. The Trilogy DVD will be available in stores and online in May of 2007. Shot a short called “3 Colors in Black & White” a part of a full length film shot by 12 Armenian Directors dedicated to the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan.
To Purchase the "Sevada Short Films Trilogy" DVD go to:
or simply visit
- San Gio Verona, Italy - Best Editing Award for "Three Colors in Black & White"
- Cannes - Official Selection "Mikosh"
- TIFF, Albania - People's Choice Award "Mikosh"
- Jove, Valencia, Spain - Official Selection "Mikosh"
Currently working on “The Last Troubadour” to go to production in 2010 and a script for a full length political thriller titled “Play God” coming 2011.
Sevada Short Films Trilogy Review
The three films featured in this collection took about two years to make. Yet their history goes back a long time, through the entwined paths of the personal and the collective.
By 1999, before the outline of a filmmaking adventure loomed on the horizon, Sevada had made a name in Los Angeles as a television-commercial director and music composer. Success had come early and rather breezily, with three critically acclaimed albums of original music to his credit. Yet Sevada felt something was missing. That year, answering the call for change and with only a vague notion about revisiting his cultural roots, he traveled to his native Armenia.
The following years proved to be critical. They brought shock and epiphany, helpless rage alternating with moments of tenderest empathy, bouts of depression and quiet bliss, and, ultimately, a new measure of understanding. Every year after 1999, Sevada found himself in Armenia at varying stretches of time. While emotional roller coasters were the given during these visits, something else, something palpable, was taking shape in his mind: he was ready to make a transition to film.
Many of the stories teeming in Sevada were those of Armenia but also transcended it. The voice, too, came from the land, yet Sevada believed it had what it took to resonate at the level of the universal.
In one defining sense, Sevada’s travels to Armenia are the story of a long series of introductions and rediscoveries. He found a country reeling from the twin jolts of independence and runaway capitalism. The formerly Soviet republic’s intentions of democratization were being put to good use, except the system was designed to benefit the very few at the top, leaving much of the body politic in the lurch. The exuberance of entrepreneurial initiative was everywhere. But so were greed and corruption, ostentation and one-upmanship, practiced ad nauseam among the fat cats of the gleaming Hummers and newly-built palaces in the smart parts of town. The socio-economic doldrums also enveloped Yerevan’s cultural glitterati. A demoralizing proportion of the artists and intellectuals woke up at noon and whiled their time away in the capital’s tony cafes and restaurants until the wee hours. They amused themselves by fantasizing about grand projects that never took off the ground, or by hurling verbal jibes at the powers that be, other artists and intellectuals, and arrogant diaspora-Armenians acting like they owned the place.
But if Sevada witnessed the frustration affecting much of Armenia’s population, he came across instances of renewal and faith that were nothing short of miraculous. There were young painters who unassumingly produced masterpieces in basement rooms; restaurant waiters who took the abuse of patrons and after work went on to hone their beloved crafts, just doing their thing; people from all walks of life, from cosmopolitan Yerevan to the farthest reaches of rural Armenia, who cheerfully saw the silver lining while melting you with their astonishing hospitality and sheer kindness.
Sevada also hooked up with a number of individuals who would become instrumental in helping him realize his goal. Key among them was stage and screen legend Michael Poghosian. It was Poghosian who took Sevada under his wings and led him to some of the best film talent in Yerevan. In short order Sevada was introduced to, among others, Edgar Baghdasaryan, whom he considers the greatest living Armenian film auteur; executive producer Gohar Igitian, whose organizational skills proved indispensable; the actress Ofelia Zakaryan; as well as Yury Kostanian and Zhirayr Dadasyan, the former and last directors of Yerevan’s Pantomime Theater, respectively.
In August 2005, Sevada was ready for action. His work as writer, director, and producer, mated to his collaboration with Igitian, Baghdasaryan, and others, resulted in his first short film, “Mikosh.” In February of the following year, Sevada returned to Armenia for more. With a ridiculously tight schedule during that harsh winter, he engaged an expanded crew and a cast, including Michael Poghosian, to shoot two more films, “As a Beginning” and “The Rope.”
As Sevada and photography director Mkrtich Baroyan drove from one possible location to the other during the filming of “Mikosh,” they sometimes made unplanned stops when they noticed a promising site. Thus they would put the map aside, improvise and adjust things according to the newfound location.
Surprises of this order fit snugly with the twin premises of “Mikosh.” The aphoristic short short follows the rather hapless wanderings of a lone shoe (“mikosh” is Armenian for one-shoe) in its quest to pair up with its twin. The film also underscores an acceptance of the unpredictability inherent in any journey, with side trips holding at least as much interest as the main itinerary.
The film opens with the titular shoe shattering the glass of a window and landing in a second-floor room as the residents, a young mother and her little son, look on stoically. They don’t seem particularly concerned that their home has been assaulted with a projectile. But they do worry that the orphan shoe would bring them bad luck. They duly get rid of it, and that’s when the shoe’s meanderings and tribulations kick in.
Shot with swift strokes in a strangely vivid neighborhood straddling the urban and rural, “Mikosh” is at turns a violent and delicate dance of redemption. By the time the story twists into its ironic finale, there emerges a whole new definition of the adage “if the shoe fits…”
In her role as the (single) mother, Ofelia Zakarian is perhaps the organizing principle of the tale. It’s all in her dignified, knowing silence. And her determination to pick up the shattered pieces.
“AS A BEGINNING”
Just behind the slick surface textures of the new Yerevan, beyond its refashioned vistas, mondo boutiques, and cooler than though cafes and restaurants, there is the beating heart of a dreamscape. This is the city’s mythic backdrop, an ongoing essay contest where memory and prospect meet – or don’t. Sevada was at home here. He felt he was in his element as he experienced deja vus at every other corner and street turn.
The juxtaposition was inescapable. There was, in the foreground, the stage of the here and now: an Armenian socius struggling for stability, an East-meets-West brand of politics and governance, the razzle-dazzle of an entrepreneurial spirit that was busy expanding the gulf between the haves and have-nots, plus the potential of eye-popping creativity across the board.
Then there was the stage of larger, less perceptible movements. The stage of history, of abiding values and traditions. Armenia’s history has been disproportionately marked with loss, yet its people have always been somehow adept at turning a new leaf the day after.
Sevada sought to do the whole monty on film, loosely basing his story on the goings-on of a pantomime stage. He wished neither to present a cautionary tale nor weave the bildungsroman of a nation in transition. His interest instead lay in vignettes that said little but intimated liberally.
“As a Beginning” opens with auditions for a pantomime performance. Against a stark-white background, the beautiful youths auditioning for the piece come up with unscripted answers to the probing questions shot by the casting director. The youths are real-life students of Yerevan’s Pantomime Theater.
Misha, their financially-strapped director (played by the great comic Sergey Danielian in the lead role), is grappling with midlife crisis on the one hand, and the tricky business of maintaining dignity and integrity on the other. During a tea house meeting with Artash (Arthur Manukyan), an old friend who lives abroad, Misha complains about the daily struggle to scrape by. To which Artash replies, “You guys don’t see beyond your noses.”
What Misha does see is that his live-in girlfriend, Lisa (Lili Aramyan) is drifting away, into the arms of Artash. He also realizes, perhaps more clearly than ever, that it’s okay to lose himself in the parallel universe of his work.
Sevada goes on to interlace the story of the staging of a pantomime play with the unraveling of domestic contentment, the narrative of a young peasant mother’s death in 1936, and the black-and-white video footage of her son, now an old man, describing her passing.
Set to a score of haunting evocations by Keith Jarrett and drum-driven crescendos by Tigran Saakian, “As a Beginning” is a lyrical tribute to the intersection of loss and salvation. The film glistens with memorable performances by Sergey Danielian, the statuesque Yury Kostanian (in his roles as a leading pantomime and a priest), and, last but certainly not least, the ebullient cast of young pantomimes whose aching beauty seems to scream, “The show must go on.”
Based on an actual story, “The Rope” is a loving nod to peasant life and the outlandish idiosyncrasies that make bona fide characters out of many a villager.
During the snow-laden winters of the Armenian highlands, villagers are mostly confined to their homes. As indoor activities are limited, the men often take to drinking by way of hushing boredom.
When Setrak (Michael Poghosian in fiendish form) is denied wine by his wife, he goes berserk and storms out of the house, intent on hanging himself in the barn. As he rushes to his end, he also can’t help wondering what the missus would do when she sees him dangling lifelessly from the ceiling.
Some time later, when his wife has a change of heart and walks into the barn with a jug of wine in hand, she is confronted by the awful truth. Setrak is dead.
Or is he?
What follows is a comedy of errors involving a theft by an old woman, an actual death, the police, time in jail, and a time for self-reckoning, all performed with deadpan humor for a fun-seeking camera.
Running through all three of Sevada’s films is a winking sense of continuum, a fascination with the essential hues and movements of the human condition that originate in the everyday yet thrive beyond it, like a wishing well minus the cynicism, or an undulating mirror of pure possibility.
Sevada himself has looked in that mirror with fresh lenses and the curiosity of a tabula rasa, with Armenia as his co-conspirator.
written by Ishkhan Jinbashian