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7th Annual Film Festival and Course Showcase Armenian Talent

Caitlin Tiftick
Staff Writer

04_my_son_lDrawing students, faculty, and members of the community, the 7th Annual Armenian Film Festival showcased documentaries, comedies, and a romance. Taking place on Friday, February 10, the festival presented four films that were selected by a screening committee comprised of Armenian Studies students and faculty. The four films included: Witnesses directed by Apo Torosyan, Toothache directed by Sirakan Abroyan, My Son Shall Be Armenian directed by Hagop Goudsouzian, and Pomegranate by Kraig Kuzirian and Anahid Nazarian.

Witnesses is a documentary that features two women who are survivors of the Armenian Genocide. The film captures the accounts of the two women, who revealed the torture that they, their families and friends, and the country of Armenia went through during the tragic period.

On a lighter note, Toothache is a comedy based on a son with a terrible toothache. The family tries to help the son with his toothache, but ultimately they do not help at all. The son ends up looking like a man in a coma, with bandages wrapped all around his head — and his toothache remains.

The feature film of the festival, My Son Shall Be Armenian, is a Canadian documentary, based on accounts of Genocide survivors. A group of five people from Canada travel to Armenia and Turkey to find Genocide survivors. Some want to find out if the Genocide ever occurred, and others want to investigate and document the Genocide by capturing survivors’ accounts before they pass away. The film director aims to acquire these accounts in order to honor his late father’s wishes and to prevent his own son from living with the burden of the Genocide.

The last film shown, Pomegranate, was a film centered on romance, yet it also brought in aspects of family heritage and culture. Some of the movie was filmed in Fresno. The audience received this film best, for it featured some familiar faces from around the Valley.

Overall, the Film Festival was a hit. It drew over 140 students, faculty, and members of the community. Armenian Studies student Sadie Hopelian said, “The film festival was good…it was a great opportunity for the Armenian community to come out and see Armenian films that they would normally not be exposed to.”

04_witnesses_lIn addition to the Film Festival, an Armenian film course took place on Friday and Saturday, February 10 and 11. The course, taught in conjunction with the Film Festival, featured Armenian films and was taught by Dr. Dickran Kouymjian, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies.

“I think it is important to expose students to film,” said Dr. Kouymjian. The course allowed students to be guided through the films and to see aspects of films that otherwise would be missed if watched with a naked eye. By being educated about the films, students were able to gain more from the films.

Both the Film Festival and the Armenian film course gave students the opportunity to be exposed to Armenian films. While Armenian film has a broad definition, (Armenian director, Armenian actors, based in Armenia, etc.) the important part is that both the quantity and quality of Armenian films is increasing. Dr. Kouymjian recalls that when he first started teaching the film course, there was not much to show. Now, there is so much available that one has to choose which films to feature.

“I wish the film festival could be longer so that more films could be shown,” said Dr. Kouymjian.

Although the Armenian Film Festival was just three hours long, the films shown portrayed different aspects of Armenian talent. Both the festival and course were a great opportunity to see the talent and focus that Armenians are putting into their films.

Another film revolving around the Genocide, The Genocide in Me will be premiering in Fresno on Friday, March 17 at 7:30 PM in the Alice Peters Auditorium. Director Araz Artinian of Canada will be present to discuss her film. For more information about this showing and for other upcoming Armenian Studies Program events, please visit http://armenianstudies.csufresno.edu/upcoming_events.htm.

ANCESTRAL STONES (2005), Director/Producer: Jeghische Gevorkian (GEORGIA)
BOOTH (2005), Director/Producer: Vatche Arabian (MASSACHUSETTS)
JAVAGH: PART I (1999), Director: Levon Atoyants (GEORGIA)
KARAOKE DREAMS (2005), Director/ Producer: Robert Davidian (CALIFORNIA)
KHACHATURIAN THE FILM (2003), Director: Peter Rosen (NEW YORK)
MY SON SHALL BE ARMENIAN (2004), Director: Hagop Goudsouzian (CANADA)
POMEGRANATE (2005), Director: Kraig Kuzirian (CALIFORNIA)
TOOTHACHE (2006), Director/Producer: Sirakan Abroyan (ARMENIA)
THADDEUS (1967), Director/Producer: Arby Ovanessian (FRANCE)
TRIPWIRE (2005), Director: Raffi Kondy (CALIFORNIA)
VANDALISM HYERENIK ARMENIA, Director: Esbardag Karabaghtsyan (ARMENIA)
VAT KINO (2005), Director: Derenik Yapujian (CALIFORNIA)
WITNESSES (2005), Director: Apo Torosyan (MASSACHUSETTS)