Fear Not Soap Fans: Armenian TV Viewers to Get First Homemade Serial

After years of following the soap opera lives of South Americans and Mexicans and Americans via translated overdubs, Armenia is about to get its very own serialized television program. Production has been underway since September 15 on "Don’t Be Afraid," a five-part film that expects to launch early next year. It is the story of struggles during the dark history of 1991-92. Miss Armenia will take the lead female role "This is an Armenian story, an episode of our life. It’s not a film of 250 episodes with Brazilian passions and tears. It’s a story of an Armenian, about friendship, human relationships and treachery. The film has something to say, it’s not simply an action, it has an important message to send," says the general producer of the Public Television of Armenia Hrach Keshishyan. Keeping the plot of the film in secret, the producer of the film says still it is mainly about love that goes through an ordeal and remains unfulfilled because of the Karabakh war. The main hero conscribes for the army and manages to change his life by reviewing values of life during the war. The main characters will be played by actor Khoren Levonyan and Miss Armenia 2004 and Miss Europe 2005 Runnerup Lusine Tovmasyan. "The search for the main female actor took quite long time. The role is not complicated but the events in the film develop around the main female character. That’s a big responsibility and Lusine overcomes the difficulties quite well after several months of acting technique and stage speech," says Keshishyan. Beauty queen Lusine speaks about her participation in the film like any other girl would do: she has dreamt of it since childhood and has accepted Keshishyan’s offer with fear and excitement at the same time. "This was the fulfillment of my childhood dream. The difficulties were a bit frightening I am used to the shooting process already, but film shooting requires quite a different experience." Lusine says the most difficult part of the film shooting, when her character sees her beloved one to the war and is supposed to cry, is still ahead: she doesn’t know yet, how she will tune herself into crying. The director is Aram Shahbazyan who has shot a number of films, but this is his first attempt in shooting serials. The script is written by Levon Galstyan and Gnel Nalbandyan. The film is mainly shot in Yerevan and in the region of Martakert in Karabakh. There are 112 acting characters in the film. Some 300 people are to be shot in the crowd scenes, mainly in the war episodes. The characters will be embodied by actors both renowned and less known to the Yerevan public. "We have purposefully invited actors also from Gyumri, Vanadzor, Goris and even those from the Armenian Theater in Georgia, who are highly professional but, for understandable reasons, not that renowned," says Keshishyan. The scenes in the film correspond to those of Yerevan in the 90s with the not so beautiful cafes of those times, with the homes with identical furnishing. The director says nothing has been made to look more beautiful or somehow differing from that reality. Keshishyan says, though the Armenian broadcasting network is already overfilled with soaps, the demand for another one still exists. "That’s what the time deman’s. A contemporary TV Company can’t keep from having film production and it was high time for the Public Television of Armenia to start working on it. We collaborate with the ‘Yerevan’ Studio that has big experience in television fiction film production." Keshishyan says they will make an attempt to restore the brand of the ‘Yerevan’ Studio that once used to produce many popular films like "The Bride form the North" and "Lipstick Number 4". Having read the script, one prominent Moscow-based TV company has expressed willingness to obtain the rights and to show the film in Russia. The budget of "Don’t Be Afraid" doesn’t scare either: according to initial estimations it will make $100,000. "The title of the film is symbolic not only for the characters of the film but also for us. This is the first attempt and we need to make it boldly and confidently, hoping that the TV viewers will appreciate the first step in a TV film production," says Keshishyan.

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