I think it’s supremely important at this point in Armenian history for young people to be able to relate Armenian stories to the world.
Cinema enthusiasts gathered at independent and large-stage theaters alike across Sydney, Melbourne, London, and New York for AGBU Arts’ eighth annual Armenians in Film event showcasing short films in a wide range of genres from up-and-coming Armenian creatives around the globe. Proceeds from this year’s event were geared towards supporting displaced Artsakh Armenians through AGBU’s Global Relief Fund, an ongoing support system tackling urgent needs and longer-term assistance as part of the response and recovery process.
Although this year’s event had the homeland top of mind, this series typically aims to highlight diverse Armenian filmmakers and allow up-and-coming talent to screen their work at prestigious global venues to increase exposure to Armenian creatives.
Melbourne and Sydney
The first event in this series took place in Melbourne at the Frankston Arts Centre with over 140 attendees present, kicking off the Armenians in Film series with a musical flair thanks to a special performance by international opera singer Natalie Aroyan, piano performance by Hayk Arsenyan, and a dazzling display of traditional Armenian dance by the Tamzara Group choreographed by Tina Natarian.
In Sydney, the event was held at the Concourse Concert Hall the following day to a full house of 400 guests. Both screenings featured the same six short films in addition to the cultural performance, including identity-based cinematic dramas like Alik Tamar Barsoumian’s “Antouni,” Lévon Minasian’s “The Piano” and Michael Aloyan’s “This Land.” In addition, uplifting, comical shorts like Anahid Yahjian and Emily Mkrtichian’s “Levon” as well as avant-garde shots like Garen Barsegian’s “Worn” were featured. The films paid homage to Armenia’s rich history with biographical recreations, including Garo Berberian’s “Taniel.”
On October 29th, over 150 movie buffs attended the London event at the Curzon Bloomsbury Cinema at the Brunswick Centre. Multiple genres were presented, including animations like Kristine Khanamiryan’s “Sunset,” experimental films like Charlotte Mungomery’s “The Road,” and Tatiana Boudakian’s “Dehatsi — I Was Another Place.” Comedic tales like Vahan Grigoryan’s “The Mud” and impactful documentaries like Arman Ayvazyan’s “Stones” were also screened. Arsenyan moderated an enlightening post-screening panel discussion with filmmakers Victoria Aleksanyan (“Crossing the Blue”) and other directors joining remotely.
New York City
The final screening of the year took place in New York’s renowned Lincoln Center, with over 130 people present. The lineup of films matched the London event, with a Q&A session moderated by Theodore Bogosian in conversation with Vahan Grigorian (“The Mud”) and Manuel Baghjajian (on behalf of “Stones” director Arman Ayvazyan) present to discuss their work.
“Now more than ever, we know how important it is to focus on Artsakh,” said AGBU Arts Director Hayk Arsenyan at the New York screening in Lincoln Center. “I think it’s supremely important at this point in Armenian history for young people to be able to relate Armenian stories to the world,” added Emmy-winning filmmaker and television producer Theodore Bogosian, moderator at the New York screening. “It warms my heart because when I first started, there were very few of us making films like this. For the Armenian message to get out this way is very important.” The much-anticipated event is expected to take place in São Paulo, Montreal, and Pasadena in the new year.
AGBU Arts offers financial, mentorship, and exposure opportunities for rising artists, providing a number of scholarships to talented young Armenians who might otherwise not have the opportunity to study at top institutions. In addition, AGBU Arts offers mini-grants and the Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellowship to support young talent with professional mentorship and funds to bring ideas to life and build credentials as they pursue a given field.
For more information on AGBU Arts, please visit https://agbu.org/arts.
To learn more about AGBU’s Global Relief Fund, please visit https://agbu.org/global-relief.