Armenian Film Festival – An Exhilarating Lineup


A poster from “The Army of Crime”

By Nancy Kalajian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

BOSTON — Though it will be held during Halloween weekend, there’s no need to be afraid of experiencing this year’s Armenian Film Festival in Boston. Indeed, the chills that filmgoers might experience during the last weekend in October may well be related to the pride and accomplishments felt towards the many talented Armenian filmmakers whose creations will be featured during this third Armenian Film Festival.

Presented by the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), a unique collection of films — narrative, documentary, short and animated — will be screened at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater at the ICA/Boston October 29-31. Located on Boston’s waterfront, the stateof- the-art theater has great sight lines with stadium style seating. The movies are accessible to speakers of French, Armenian or English; the subtitles are in English.

The festival kicks off on Friday, October 29, with screenings of two films, Robert Guédiguian’s historical drama, “The Army of Crime” and Serge Avedikian’s “Barking Island,” winner of the Palm d’Or for Best Short Film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. The opening night screenings will be followed by a dessert reception in the ICA lobby. On display in the lobby is “Banquet” by New York artist Francesca DiMattio, a new, fivecanvas painting that offers viewers a fantastical interpretation of a waterfront scene. DiMattio’s work is the fourth installation of the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall, which is dedicated to site-specific works by leading contemporary artists.

Three films will be presented on Saturday, and two more on Sunday, the final evening. After Saturdays and Sundays screenings, filmmakers will be present and available to answer questions pertaining to their films. Bianca Bagatourian, co-founder of the ADAA and curator of the Armenian Film Festival of Boston, will ask the filmmakers questions and the audience will also have the opportunity to poise questions.

Paul Boghosian, director of the Armenian Film Festival, has been spreading the word about the festival at many Armenian community events and gatherings. “This is the strongest line-up that we have had in the three years that I’ve been involved in the festival, and this year as festival director, I have taken great care to work closely with Bianca Bagatourian in selecting films that are not only prestigious and award-winning but also audience-friendly. These are films that will both entertain and inform and also make us proud as a community to support such distinctive, talented filmmakers who are making their voices heard on the international stage.”

He added, “For three years in a row, we have received vital support from the Knights of Vartan and www.techfusion com. We also have unprecedented marketing and promotional support from AIWA, ALMA and NASSR.”

Bagatourian praised the ICA as a venue and encouraged the Boston-area community to partake in the many film offerings during the weekend. “The opening-night films are just fabulous. ‘Barking Island’ is animated, symbolic and relates to the Armenian Genocide. ‘Army of Crime,’ by Robert Guédiguian, is the story of a poet, and the head of the resistance army in France; it’s almost like a spy thriller and highly exciting.”

As a matter of fact, Avedikian’s presence will be felt in both opening night films. “It’s a very interesting point that Serge Avedikian, who directed ‘Barking Island’ actually acts and sings an Armenian song in ‘The Army of Crime,’” continued Bagatourian.

On Saturday night, documentaries focus on the connection of Armenians to three diasporan communities: Jerusalem, Beirut and Greece in “From Ararat to Zion” by Edgar Baghdasaryan, “The Fifth Column” by Vatche Boulghourjian and “Mount Athos, The Monk’s Republic,” by Eddy Vicken.

The documentaries on the second day are very strong.” Bagatourian said. “‘The Fifth Column’ won the third prize Cine Foundation at the 2010 Cannes International Film Festival. Eddy Vicken, the very gifted filmmaker of ‘Mount Athos, The Monk’s Republic,’ will be present on Saturday to discuss the challenges in filming this unique territory for the first time.

“‘From Ararat to Zion,’ a fabulous documentary, shows sights that have never been seen on camera before,” added Boghosian. “Aiden Quinn, the distinguished award-winning Irish-American actor, provides the voiceover narration. The audience will be enthralled to follow in the steps of the filmmakers as they explore the narrow passages of the historic Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem. Special permission to access these sights was provided by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians and Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Patriarch of Jerusalem.”

Sunday’s evening’s films include “Heart of Two Nations” by Nouritza Matossian and “Modern Love” by Stéphane Kazandjian. “In the Heart of Two Nations,” Hrant Dink talks about his life, and Nouritza Matossian, the talented filmmaker, will also be present in Boston.

The festival closes on a light, upbeat, optimistic note,” states Boghosian, “with the screening of ‘Modern Love,’ a special “French take” on contemporary relationships.”

The ICA is located at 100 Northern Avenue on Boston’s waterfront. For those who want schedule and ticket information, visit www.icaboston.org where you can also find trailers and watch alluring sneak previews of some of the films. More information on the films and schedules can also be found at www.armeniandrama.org