By Sharon Swainson
LOS ANGELES — The 19th Arpa International Film Festival (AIFF) concluded with its awards ceremony on November 6, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
The night opened with a screening of Emmanuelle Osei-Kuffour’s thought-provoking short film, “Born With It.” The master of ceremonies and actress-producer, Heather McComb, was vibrant and engaging throughout the entire ceremony. Comedians Mary Basmadjian and Arman Oganesyan had the audience laughing with their creative quips and storytelling. International singer and actress Maria Elena Infantino raised the roof with a riveting rendition of Edith Piaf’s song, No, I Have no Regrets.
Throughout the night, 10 presenters graced the stage and announced the six film award winners and four special award honorees: Danny Buday (writer-director), Dr. Eric Esrailian (co-manager and lead producer for Survival Pictures), Karen Kondazian (actress and award-winning novelist), Victor Loyola (director of development at University of Guadalajara), Jelena Mrdja (Serbian actress), Mariana Novak (actress and voice-over talent), John Stahl (screenwriter and chair of CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts), Angus Sutherland (Vice President of Production and Development at Lotus Entertainment), Katherine Vallin (film generalist), and Basil Wallace (actor-director-writer).
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to renowned French film and television actor Dominique Pinon, by vice president of Lotus Entertainment, Angus Sutherland.
The Career Achievement Award was presented to composer, activist, and lead singer of System of the Down Serj Tankian, by Dr. Eric Esrailian, the co-manager and lead producer for Survival Pictures, and the producer of “The Promise.”
The Breakthrough Artist Award was presented to director and choreographer Albert Kodagolian, by Goth Rock legends Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins.
The Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award was presented to Emmy award winning director-producer of “Women of 1915,” Bared Maronian, by Sylvia Minassian, Founder of Arpa International Film Festival and Dr. Zaven Khatchaturian, creator of Armin T. Wegner award.
A special certificate in recognition, from the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, was presented to all four award recipients and the producer of the documentary “Crows of the Desert,” Paul Turpanjian.
Arpa International Film Festival was selected as one of the top three Indie Film Festivals in the September issue of the Westways Magazine.
Festival director Michael Ashjian led the Arpa team.
2016 ARPA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS
Best Feature Film: “Train Driver’s Diary,” (2016), Serbia, Director: Milos Radovic
Best Documentary: “The Other Side of Home,” (2016), US, Director: Naré Mkrtchyan
Best Animated Short Film: “Anna” (2015), France, Director: Alexia Rubod, Antoine Poyard, Jordann Jacobé, Alexis Choquard, Sophie Bracmard, Yunhan Liu
Best Short Film: “ZAAR ,”(2016), US, Director: Ibrahim Nada
Best Director: David Safarian, “Hot Country, Cold Winter”
Best Screenplay: “Train Driver’s Diary,” (2016), Serbia, Milos Radovic