Paper or Plastic? LA Premiere of ATP’s Short Film Leaves No Doubt

Building Bridges program manager Sarah Hayes at the Los Angeles premiere with Peter Deirbadrossian, the American actor in the ATP film "Something New"

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles premiere of the Armenia Tree Project (ATP) film “Something New” attracted young and old alike for the viewing of the 14 minute production about two teens who struggle to clean up the dumping of plastic bags throughout Armenia.

Set in Los Angeles and the beautiful Armenian village of Margahovit, the film features cousins Nuneh and Armen who eventually devise a plan, via their internet chats, to attack the problem of littering and plastic bags.

The eighth grade student who plays Armen, Peter Deirbadrossian, addressed the gathering at the December 15 premiere at the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts. Peter shared the words of the late actor Sos Sarkisian:

“I dream that our country, our capitol, and our villages become clean. Because garbage is not only disgusting, it is contagious. Clean countries mean great civilization. I dream that our rivers are clean and that our trees are not cut down or maimed. After all, our future generations will still need oxygen to breathe.”

In working with director Kennedy Wheatley and Building Bridges program manager Sarah Hayes during the filming of “Something New,” Peter began to wonder what would happen to Armenia if people do not do something new about its environmental problems: what would happen to that one plastic bag that takes 1,000 years to disintegrate?

Parallel sentiments were conveyed by Tatev Ghumashyan, who portrays Armen’s cousin Nuneh in the film. During the screening of “Something New” in the town of Margahovit in Lori region of Armenia last month, both Tatev and co-star Nara Margaryan stressed that the film helped them learn of the effects of plastic bags on Armenia’s environment and natural beauty.

“We now think twice about using plastic bags because there is no way to dispose of them without harming our environment,” said Nara. “Our village is one of the most beautiful places in Armenia, and it is a privilege to live here and safeguard it,” said Tatev.

Armenia generates 5,000 tons of plastic waste annually in the form of water bottles and plastic bags that find their way to unlined and untreated garbage dumps or ravines. Seventy different hazardous substances that cause everything from cancer to asthma are emitted into the air when trash – particularly plastics – are burned. When buried, the toxins enter the water supply, affecting livestock and eventually humans.

“It made me realize how much the existence of ATP is essential. The efforts and tremendous work to revitalize the country cannot become reality if there is no steering wheel to guide and organize and make people aware. You can’t fight a poison without its antidote,” Peter stressed.

“Something New” features music by System of A Down and Greg Hosharian of Armenian Space Station, as well as the song written by Tony Iommi and performed by The Dorians at Eurovision this year. The film was made as a part of ATP’s Building Bridges program that educates diasporan youth about Armenia’s natural heritage as well as environmental challenges in Armenia. The program operates in a variety of Armenian schools and is funded by a grant from the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation. “Something New” can be viewed online.

ATP’s mission is to develop Armenia through community-based tree planting and environmental education. ATP seeks to reverse the loss of Armenia’s forest cover and to advocate for the sustainable use of our natural resources. ATP’s three major programs are tree planting, environmental education, and sustainable development initiatives. For more information, please visit armeniatree.org.

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