‘Lost and Found’ Seeks to Reunite Audiences with Armenian Culture


By Gabriella Gage

Mirror-Spectator Staff

WATERTOWN — The creators of the recently released “Lost and Found in Armenia” say they wanted to create more than just a film about Armenians — they wanted to showcase current Armenian talent and culture in the arts.

The film is the story of Bill (Jamie Kennedy), an American tourist and son of a US Senator who vacations in Turkey trying to mend his broken heart. After a strange parasailing accident, Bill unknowingly finds himself in a small village in Armenia where he is accused of being a Turkish spy. In a comedic series of events, Bill meets a beautiful Armenian girl (Angela Sarafyan) who helps him navigate his plight.

The film’s producer, Valerie McCaffrey grew up in Fresno’s Armenian community and her mother hails from Lowell, Mass. Prior to her work as a producer, McCaffrey studied theater at the University of Hawaii before graduating from California State University, Long Beach. She worked for eight years a casting director for Universal Studios and then as the vice president of casting at New Line Cinema. Her film credits include films such as “American History X,” and she is credited with discovering actors such as Jeremy Renner and Ellen Page.

The initial idea for the film began with actor Vachik Mangassarian, who plays Josef in the film. After hearing the story concept, McCaffrey said she was “sold.”

“I loved the whole thing,” she recalled. McCaffrey, together with director Gor Kirakosian, worked to develop a sizzle reel for the film to show potential investors and cast. From the buzz created by the sizzle reel they were able to find the funding for the film, with much of the investments coming from Armenia.

Fellow producer Maral Djerejian worked tirelessly with their team to create a film that would appeal to a variety of audiences.

McCaffrey cast the film, in addition to developing the script and helping to find investors. “We wanted an American actor [for Bill] who would be perfect for bridging the audiences. I immediately thought of Jamie,” said McCaffrey.

The team shot on location throughout villages in Armenia for six weeks. They also filmed in San Diego for a week and a few days in Los Angeles.

“We employed a lot of people [in Armenia.] We were able to use the money invested by Armenia and put it back into the country when filming.”

Four languages were spoken on set, including Georgian.

“Everybody worked as a family to get this done,” she said.

A few Turkish actors also participated in the film production. “This is one of the first times Turkish and Armenian actors have worked together on a film,” noted McCaffrey.

McCaffrey was proud to focus on the current artistic achievements of talented Armenian actors and bring them to the attention of American audiences. “There are so many talented Armenian actors who are devoted to their art, but there aren’t enough roles for them there,” said McCaffrey.

This film does not focus on the Armenian Genocide or tragic events in Armenia’s history, but instead, is a light-hearted take on current Armenian culture. One goal was to create a fun and accessible way for those not familiar with the Armenian worldwide community to learn about the culture and heritage. “It’s [the film] is about who we are as a people,” said McCaffrey. “We see a lot of our own family members and people we know in these characters,” she added. “This American character falls in love with Armenia and Armenian culture,” said McCaffrey, adding that she hopes that it is a sentiment audiences will share with ‘Bill.’

For lead actress Sarafyan, the film was also a homecoming. “Angela had left Armenia at age 4. She came back to her homeland to shoot this film. It was an emotional experience for her and we were so lucky to have her as a part of it.”

According to McCaffrey, the film has sold out several screenings including its weekend opening in Glendale. “The audience response has been great so far. People are just loving it,” she said.

The film is currently playing at the following theaters: Pacific Theaters Americana, Glendale; Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Laemmle Town Center, Encino, Calif.; AMC Burbank 8, Burbank, Calif.; Sierra Vista 16, Fresno/Clovis, Calif.; AMC Methuen, Methuen, Mass.; AMC Forum, Detroit, Mich.; AMC Hamilton 24, Hamilton, NJ and AMC Rio, Washington DC.