Arpa International Film Festival Takes on Hollywood

Arpa Filmmakers (L to R) Yedalian Taschi Mahon Kupelian Nazarian

HOLLYWOOD–From October 24-26, Arpa International Film Festival screened 50 films from 21 nations, including Armenia, Australia, Canada, China, Congo, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tobago, Trinidad, Turkey, UK, and Venezuela.

Arpa’s Official Selection included “The River Ran Red,” “Strength and Honour,” “The Flyboys,” “Familiar Voices,” “Yai Wanonanable ‘s The Enemy God,” “We Drank the Same Water,” “Checkpoint,” “Blood and Sand,” “Sela Maniyo,” “Children of Congo: From War to Witches,” “My Big Fat Armenian Family,” “The Morganthau Story,” “Armenia: An Open Wound,” “A Road Less Travelled: The Handjian Story,” “S.F. Hye,” “Darfur NOW,” and over 35 short films, music videos, and documentaries.

Festival At A Glance
The festival’s highlight events included the world premier of 95 year-old filmmaker Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s “The River Ran Red” which was co-presented by Armenian Film Foundation. Over 400 guests attended the tribute to Dr. Hagopian and the final installment in his trilogy about the Armenian Genocide.

“The prestige, fanfare and fun that the Arpa International Film Festival offered was amazing,” said Armenian Film Foundation’s Tamar Mashigian, who worked closely with Arpa to stage the premier of “The River Ran Red.” AFF Board Member, Gerald Papazian added, “We were very pleased with the premier – thanks to all of the members of the Arpa committee.” In kind, the festival’s founder, Sylvia Minassian said, “We look forward to working with Armenian Film Foundation again. Both our organizations share the same mission ‘s to give filmmakers fighting for Genocide recognition a forum in which to have their voices heard.”

The festival’s other highlights included Mark Mahon’s “Strength and Honour” which was attended by Hollywood’s elite, including international film star and soccer champion, Vinnie Jones. Mahon took home the honors for Best Feature Film.

The sold out screening of “The Flyboys,” starring Jesse James and Steven Baldwin, was also attended by 30 members of AGBU’s Generation Next Mentorship Program. In a shared effort by Arpa and AGBU to bring awareness to the need of strong leaders in the Armenian community, Arpa screened AGBU’s public service announcement about the mentorship program. Ara Arzumanian, AGBU’s Generation Next director said, “Arpa’s screening of our recruitment advertising at the 2008 Arpa Film Fest makes a direct impact on our ability to serve more youth, drawing more and more volunteers to our cause.” Both organizations look forward to future collaborations together.

Serge Avedikian’s “We Drank the Same Water” and Tadeh Daschi’s “The Witch of Portobello” (based on the books by Paulo Coelho) also had their premiers at Arpa. Additionally, the festival presented a 90th birthday tribute to Rita Hayworth with an exclusive screening of 20th Century Fox’s 1941 masterpiece “Blood and Sand,” directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

Filmmakers Hrag Yedalian, Tadeh Daschi, Eric Nazarian, Mark Mahon and Roger Kupelian discussed their current and upcoming films during a panel discussion dedicated to contemporary projects. Moderated by producer Zoe Kevork, the program was attended by up and coming Hollywood filmmakers, students, and festival patrons. The festival also staged a revival of “Checkpoint,” the 1987 film staring Mary Apick, Arpa’s 2008 Foundation Award Recipient.

Awards Ceremony
The festival culminated with a star-studded awards ceremony at the Egyptian Theatre. The show opened with a stellar performance by singer, rapper, and choreographer Mihran who has danced with Madonna, Pink and Britney Spears. He performed “Armenia,” his first single from his debut album.

During the awards program, Arpa recognized individuals in the film industry with achievement and humanitarian accolades. Award winning actress and international activist Mary Apick was presented with the Arpa Foundation Award by past Arpa Award recipient and Emmy winning producer Robert Papazian (“The Day After,” “Rome,” “Nash Bridges,” "Coffy"). 2008 recipients also include Theodore Braun who received the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award for his film “Darfur Now”; and Marco Khan was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year for his performances in “10,000 B.C,” “Iron Man,” and “Don’t Mess with Zohan.”

Singer Katrina Abrahemian performed two songs with Grammy Award-winning producer Josh Sklair. The awards ceremony was attended by such celebrities as Patricia Kara (#9 on “Deal or No Deal’); Frankie Jay Allison (“Miami Vice,” “Ocean’s 11”); Fox News Correspondent Anita Vogel; the Hollyscoop Girls; actress Barbara Niven (“Charmed,” “Cold Case,” “ER”); actress Anne Bedian (“The Ex List,” “Lost,” “CSI”); actor Vatche Magassarian(The Stoning of Soraya M, “NYPD Blue,” “JAG”); producer Irene Miracle (Midnight Express); and was hosted by ReelzChannel’s Jill Simonian.


2008 Arpa International Film Festival Award Recipients Were:

Best Short Film:
ROMANS 12:20
directed by Shammasian Brothers (United Kingdom)

Best Music Video:
directed by Tadeh Daschi (Seda Melkoni: producer) (USA)

Best Documentary Film:
directed and produced by ; Hyun Oh (USA / China)

Best Screenplay:
Tie between:

Best Director:
CHRISTOPHER BESSETTE for Yai Wanonabalewa: The Enemy God (USA / Belize / Venezuela)

Best Feature Film:
STRENGTH AND HONOUR written, directed and produced by Mark Mahon (Ireland / UK)

Arpa International Film Festival, which staged its first green event in 2008, is produced by Arpa Foundation for Film, Music, and Art (AFFMA), a non-profit, tax deductible charitable organization dedicated to artists exploring war, exile, genocide, identity, multi-culturalism and global empathy.

For more information, or to become on AFFMA member, please visit or call (323) 663-1882.


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