Sunday was the opening day of the sixth annual Golden Apricot Film Festival. The festival showcases films by Armenian filmmakers and others from around the world representing such countries as Guatemala, France, Poland, the US, Germany, Bulgaria, Iran, Spain, Israel and many others.
I’ve already noticed that some films to be shown have some sort of “mafia” theme to them, such as “Inside Ring” starring renown French actor Jean Reno, about the Armenian mob in France. This actuality isn’t all that surprising since there are a some extremely popular Armenian-produced crime dramas on television at the moment. Many people tell me that they accurately reflect Armenian society. I can’t find any argument to oppose them.
Even films by Turkish filmmakers will be screened as they were last year. Seems the organizers of the Armenian film festival are trying to make the point that film and politics are completely separate entities and that it’s OK to watch such films in your own country even though they were produced by your historical enemy. There’s even something called the “Armenia-Turkey Cinema Platform.” Apparently in April and December 2008 meetings were held in Turkey and Armenia, respectfully where topics concerning ”How cinema deals with history” and ”Cinema as Means of Cross-Border Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” were discussed by the participants. How noble of them.
Anyway, like I just mentioned, many films by Armenian filmmakers will be shown. Among them are Karen Oganesyan of Gyumri, Nuran David Calis of Germany, Vardan Hakobyan of Armenia, Michael A. Goorjian of the US, Aram Shahbazyan of Armenia, and Nigol Bezjian of Beirut, who I personally have met a few times in Boston. In all, 27 Armenian directors will be featured. Unfortunately many of the Armenian films will be screened in the late morning or during the afternoon, which makes it virtually impossible for people with steady day jobs to see them, like myself.
Since I work until 7 pm most days it seems I will only be able to see films presented by foreign filmmakers in the evenings. I plan on catching “Looking For Palladin” tonight at 8:30 pm by Andrzej Krakowski, which stars Ben Gazzara, a veteran of the John Cassavetes troupe from the 1970s. It’s about a Hollywood talent scout who travels to Guatemala in search of an Oscar-winning actor in his advanced years to lure him out of retirement.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to get in since they tend to have “by inventation only” screenings of films for some strange reason. As a tip off–if you show up to watch a film only to find that you have to be a VIP to get into the theater, wait until the ushers have determined that no one else with an invitation will show up. They just might let you in, for free.
The Golden Apricot Film Festival is the only chance a movie buff living in Armenia has throughout the year to watch fascinating films of world cinema as they are meant to be seen–on the silver screen. Sometimes they are subtitled in English if they were produced in a non-English speaking country, which obviously is a huge plus. Unless you are a Russian speaker, however, you can rule out watching films produced in Russia with subtitles, unfortunately.
Leave your own reviews of the films that you have seen at the festival in the comments section.