Atom Egoyan Receives Chlotrudis Hall of Fame Award


By Nancy Kalajian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On Sunday, March 18, the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film honored director Atom Egoyan during its 18th Annual Chlotrudis Awards Ceremony at the historic Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. Egoyan was honored with a special Chlotrudis Hall of Fame Award for his achievements as a filmmaker and was accompanied by his wife, actress Arsinée Khanjian.

The Chlotrudis Society is a Boston- based non-profit group that teaches people to view film actively, experience the world through independent film and engage in discussion. The group works with film festivals, local art-houses and theatres, production companies, directors and actors to bring creative, quality films to the attention of audiences and film- love

“The award is the Chlotrudis Award, but we call it a Trudy for short,” said Michael Colford, president of the society. The award was named in honor of two cats: Chloe and Gertrudis. “Chloe passed away some years ago, but Gertrudis, who was a kitten when we started, is 18 years old and going strong.”

Colford and Ivy Moylan, clerk, the affable co- hosts from the Chlotrudis Society, did a smashing job in keeping up the momentum of the award program and explained that art-house theatres were the theme for this year’s ceremony. Reminiscent of the Academy Awards, albeit with a fun, local twist, the late Sunday afternoon program lasted more than two hours and included amusing musical numbers, film tributes and short film clips. Of particular note, was the splendid vocals and spirit of Andrew Cincotta who received huge applause for his singing of a piece related to a nominated film.

Interspersed throughout the program was the awarding of Trudy awards given in numerous categories including Best Actress (to Tracy Wright for “Trigger”), Best Actor (Michael Shannon for “Take Shelter”) and Best Movie (“The Artist”). Membership votes determine the winners of each year’s awards.

In acknowledging the talents of honoree Egoyan, the program booklet stated, “Atom Egoyan has been exploring the hows and whys of truth, identity, memory, fidelity and loss, through the medium of film for over three decades. After garnering several Chlotrudis nominations, including a Best Movie and Best Director nod for ‘The Sweet Hereafter”’ in 1998, Atom was honored with a special directing award by the society. Often heralded for his unique visual style, his later films, ‘Where the Truth Lies’ and ‘Chloe,’ have received Chlotrudis nods for Best Visual Design and Best Cinematography respectively. Atom’s films tackle difficult subjects, and ‘Ararat,’ one his most epic films, showed up on several Chlotrudis members’ top films of the year lists for 2002.”

In presenting the award and introducing Egoyan as a favorite filmmaker, Colford discussed the filmmaker’s achievements, creative filmmaking and themes of heritage, family and storytelling experienced in his films. “Ararat” is “both epic and intimate at the same time,” and “Chloe” had “astonishing visual style,” he declared. A short clip from “The Sweet Hereafter” was viewed and shortly after an excited Egoyan jumped onto the stage to receive his Trudy award. In accepting his award, a bubbling Egoyan said, “this award feels true…” He also expressed appreciation to the tribute made to Canadian filmmakers and their creative community.

Changes in technology for filmmaking, including financial costs, have evolved over the years, and he said, “You can (now) make a beautiful work for nothing.” He praised the Chlotrudis Society, “You have an incredible job…to discern and select films” among so many films made nowadays. After holding his Trudy award high in the air, he sweetly tapped another Trudy Award placed on the podium to announce, “It’ll be beside Arsinée’s,” back home in Toronto.

In 2002, Khanjian was awarded a special Chlotrudis award for her “fascinating career” and with this Cambridge appearance, she is the first Chlotrudis honoree to make a return visit. Khanjian has appeared in dozens of film and television appearances, beginning with Egoyan’s first film, “Next of Kin” and notably as Ani in “Ararat.” During the ceremony, Khanjian presented the Cat’s Meow Award to the Independent Film Festival of Boston; it was accepted by Adam Roffman, Nancy Campbell and Brian Tamm. Khanjian said this festival “rose like Athena” and noted the long line that reaches through Seven Hills Park as guests wait to enter the Somerville Theatre.

After the program, admirers, including some Armenians, gathered around to offer congratulations. “You are lucky to live here,” Egoyan shared, and noted that he wants to come back to visit the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) and Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives in Watertown.

A series of Egoyan films were presented over the March 16-18 weekend at the Brattle Theatre. Both Egoyan and actress Khanjian appeared in person at screenings of “Adoration” for a question-and-answer program after the film on Saturday night, as well as an introduction for “Calendar” in high definition on Sunday evening, after the awards ceremony.

“You are looking at a Blue Ray high-defini- tion version,” he shared with the Cambridge audience. Indeed, the ancient churches and col- orful characters popped off the screen.

Of their collaboration on “Calendar,” Egoyan said, “It was a wonderful and special event for the two of us…to go back to our ancestral homeland. It was a very personal film.” He spoke of the barren land, the terrible economic crisis including no electricity that they found during filming there in 1992.

Khanjian, co-producer of “Calendar,” spoke of a prize of one million rubles from Moscow that they won about 20 years ago “to shoot a film in any of the Soviet Republics.” It turned out to be worth about $500, hardly enough, but with an award of $80,000 from ZDF (a German source) they were able to make “Calendar.”