LOS ANGELES—A mission of the L.A. Film Festival in recent years has been to highlight stories that are intrinsic to Los Angeles. One of the most intriguing and successful of these L.A.-themed movies is “Aram, Aram”, set in the Armenian community of Hollywood, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
First-time writer-director Christopher Chambers has crafted a potent, lovingly detailed evocation of an unfamiliar California subculture.
Aram (John Roohinian) is a pre-adolescent boy from Beirut. But when his parents are killed in an automobile accident, he comes to live with his grandfather (Levon Sharafyan), a shoemaker in Los Angeles. Exploring the streets of the neighborhood, Aram is attracted to Armenian gang culture, run by Hakop (Sevak Hakoyan). His grandfather disapproves, but Aram is susceptible to the macho posturing of Hakop and his cronies.
The score by Katy Jarzebowski, which includes Armenian hip-hop music, also gives the film an electric charge. The last portion of the film depends on handheld camera work, and builds tremendous tension. Chambers trained as a cinematographer, and he has probably studied the classic opening tracking shots from “Touch of Evil” and “Goodfellas”. His direction of this final sequence is remarkably intense, as the filmmaker takes Aram through a dangerous night journey that ends in a deeply moving moment of connection and redemption.