GLENDALE—An unusual independent film has been making waves at film festivals around the world and is now filling movie theaters in Los Angeles.
“ARAM, ARAM,” a coming-of-age drama set in Little Armenia, is the first film to be set in the Armenian community of Los Angeles both written and directed by a non-Armenian.
Christopher Chambers, who calls himself “100% non-Armenian” first had the idea for the film while growing up in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. “I was always fascinated by the Armenian community growing up but I never had any personal connection to it,” said Chambers.
When he was in his 20s, he befriended an Armenian assistant cameraman who told him about Armenia’s rich cultural history. “For the first time, I learned that Armenia was the first Christian nation and about the Armenian Genocide,” Chambers recalled. After that first conversation, Chambers became even more curious and began researching the history behind Armenian immigration to Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I saw that there was a continuity between the struggles that Armenians faced when coming to America and the struggles faced by every wave of immigration before that.” Chambers became inspired to make a film about an Armenian boy who was sent to America to live with his grandfather, struggled to survive and ended up falling in with the wrong crowd.
The result of that inspiration became “ARAM, ARAM.” Featuring a “100% all-Armenian lead cast” including legendary Armenian Actors Levon Sharafyan and Alla Tumanian, the film also features powerful performances from newcomers John Sevag Roohinian and Sevak Hakoyan.
“ARAM, ARAM” premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it was the first Armenian-themed film to ever show at the Festival in its entire 20-year history. That screening sold out in a matter of days. After that, “ARAM, ARAM” toured to film festivals around the world, including the Golden Apricot in Yerevan and the Montreal Film Festival.
On October 1st, the film opened in Fresno, where it was #1 at the box office of the Maya Cinemas Fresno on its opening night. “ARAM, ARAM” then opened in theaters in Encino and Glendale last week and has been so successful that Pacific Theatres at the Americana invited it to continue playing for another week.
“When I first set out to make a film set in Little Armenia with a lead cast of Armenian actors, my producers thought that I was insane,” said Chambers. “They thought that no one would care about a story set in the Armenian community,” Chambers continued, “but the incredible, authentic performances by our actors are precisely the reason why audiences around the world are connecting with this film—I am lucky to have them in my film.”
“ARAM, ARAM” plays five times daily at Pacific Theatres at the Americana with special event screenings featuring filmmaker Q&A sessions. For more information visit facebook.com/AramAramFilm. For tickets, visit Fandango.com.