Eric Nazarian Wins ADAA’s Lillian & Varnum Paul 2009 Screenwriting Award

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LOS ANGELES—Screenwriter Eric Nazarian has won the 2009 $10,000 Lillian & Varnum Paul Screenwriting Award for his screenplay, “Music for Strangers.”  The award was given at the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) 2nd Biennial Paul Awards Celebration, Saturday, September 12 at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.  

The celebration, hosted by famed London actor/comedian Kev Orkian, kicked off with a presentation of the Armenian Star Award to Producer and former CEO of Sunset Gower Studios, Robert Papazian, for his contributions to Armenians in the industry.  The Emmy-Award winning producer’s credits include the HBO Series Rome, the NBC film Inherit the Wind, and more than 80 other television movies, series and miniseries.  The Star Award was presented to Papazian by Sunset Gower Studios Vice President Terri Melkonian, who was mentored by Papazian.

Guests at the ADAA event included many high-level professionals from the industry and renowned actors of Armenian decent, including Ken Davitian (Get Smart, Borat), Marty Papazian (Jarhead) and Angela Sarafyan (A Beautiful Life).  

The Lillian & Varnum Paul Screenwriting Award was established in 2007 by the late Mr. Varnum Paul and his wife, Lillian, through their fund at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, facilitated by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.  The Award, administered by ADAA, recognizes outstanding screenplays based on Armenian themes and is given biennially.

The other finalists of the Paul Screenwriting Award were Levon Minasian with Ester Mann, for the screenplay, “Moskvitch, My Love”; and David Deranian and Anthony Zanontian for their screenplay, “The Bedouin,” based on the book of the same title by Araxy Tatoulian.  

Contest Administrator and ADAA Board of Trustees member Kristen Lazarian thanked this year’s Honorary Jury: Oscar-nominated filmmaker Atom Egoyan, theater director/former literary agent Michael Peretzian, and Alcon Entertainment Vice President Steven P. Wegner.  She also shared the synopses of the top three scripts and acknowledged the finalists, all of whom were present.

Actress, ADAA founding board member and daughter of Lillian and Varnum Paul, Karen Kondazian, shared vivid memories of her parents and invited His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian to announce the winner.

“Music for Strangers” is a poignant and haunting depiction of modern-day Armenia that tells the story of a lonely painter, Zhora, who has a chance encounter with Anna, a woman who has been ostracized by society after being forced into trafficking.  When Anna disappears, Zhora embarks on an odyssey through the streets of Yerevan to find her.  Born in Armenia, Eric Nazarian immigrated to the United States with his family in 1981 and studied at the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.  

The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance’s mission is to make the Armenian voice heard on the world stage through the dramatic arts of theatre and film.  The organization accomplishes this mission by supporting playwrights and screenwriters with production opportunities, annual industry events, networking resources, film festivals and writing awards.

ADAA, now in its fifth year of operation, recently opened its new west coast office at Sunset Gower Studios, the original home of Columbia Pictures and many of its Oscar-winning films. The Oscar winning film, From Here to Eternity, was written in the new ADAA office.  The historic studio courtyard was the venue for the Paul Awards celebration.

“ADAA has come a long way and looks forward to developing even more resources for the encouragement and assistance of Armenian artists,” said ADAA founder and President, playwright Bianca Bagatourian, during her event remarks.

In addition to the $10,000 Lillian and Varnum Paul Screenwriting Award, ADAA administers the William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting on Armenian themes — the deadline for which is February 15, 2010.  

Donations to ADAA can be made at www.armeniandrama.orgor by mail to ADAA, Sunset Gower Studios, 1438 N. Gower St., Box 24, Courtyard Suite 43, Hollywood, CA 90028.  For questions, contact adaa@armeniandrama.org or 323 315 9415.

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