Arpa International Film Festival Announces 2011 Jury, Nominated and Distinguished Films

A scene from "Here"

HOLLYWOOD—The 14th Arpa International Film Festival announced this year’s jury and the nominated and distinguished films for 2011. The annual Arpa International Film Festival, presented by AT&T takes place September 22-24, 2011 at the Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90028-4605)
Joining the distinguished jury are CAA talent representatives Ara Keshishian and Jeff Speich and marketing producer Owen Ward. The judges will choose winners for Best Documentary, Best Short Film, and Best Feature Film from the nominated films which were selected from this year’s festival entries. The nominees in the Best Feature category are also eligible to receive Best Screenplay and Best Director nods. Winners will be announced prior to their screenings throughout the three day festivities.

“We are honored to have these industry professionals join us as members of the jury this year. Each represents a very different arc with regards to viewing the artistic contributions of the nominated films. They have a difficult task as all of our films this year present unique and diverse perspectives,” stated Alex Kalognomos, fest’s director.

This year’s Best Short Film category includes directors who have perfected the art of weaving full stories into minutes. Nominees are Eric Nazarian for BOLIS; Armen Khechoumian’s Folie a Deux; and LE PIANO from director Levon Minasian. FOLIE A DEUX can be seen at Friday’s (Sept. 23) Shorts Program at 10:15pm. Both BOLIS and LE PIANO will be screened free to the public during the Saturday Evening Shorts Program on September 24 at 6pm.

Arpa International Film Festival is world renowned for its hard hitting, thought provoking documentaries from international filmmakers and this year’s selection is no exception. Nominated for Best Documentary are four exceptional films in their own right, Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas’ DILLI; Robert Davidian’s RETURN; Arman Yeritsyan and Inna Sahakyan’s THE LAST TIGHTROPE DANCER IN ARMENIA; and OCCUPATION HAS NO FUTURE directed by David Zlutnick.

"My Uncle Rafael" is one of the nominated films

This is the first time in the 14-year history of the festival that the feature films nominated in the Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Director categories include two comedies. Titles that will be up for the awards include FRED AND VINNIE directed by Steve Skrovan (“An Unreasonable Man”), written by Fred Stoller (“Dumb and Dumber”), and starring Stoller, Angelo Tsarouchas, Fred Willard, Richard Steven Horvitz and John Mallory Asher; Marc Fusco’s (“Rennie’s Landing”) MY UNCLE RAPHAEL, written by Scott Yagemann and Vahik Pirhamzei, starring Pirhamzei, John Michael Higgins, Missi Pyle, Anthony Clark, Rachel Blanchard, Joe Lo Truglio, Anahid Avanesian, Carly Chaikin, Sage Ryan, Ursula Taherian, and Lupe Ontiveros; and THREE VEILS written and directed by Rolla Selbak (“Making Maya”) starring Sheetal Sheth, Angela Zahra, Mercedes Masöhn, and Anne Bedian.

"Five Minarets of New York"

Fest’s 2011 Breakthrough Performance Award will go to actor/writer/director Vahik Pirhamzei for his starring role as the hilarious, outspoken but beloved Rafael in Marc Fusco’s comedy, My Uncle Rafael. Pirhamzei will join director Marc Fusco on stage for a Q&A following the screening on Friday, September 23rd at 7:30 pm to receive his award.

Previously announced, the festival’s prestigious AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation and Stewardship Award will go to the compelling documentary “Marion Stoddart: The work of 1000″ by Susan Edwards. Director Susan Edwards will be on hand to accept the award following a free screening of her film Saturday at 3 p.m. The film chronicles the advocate Marion Stoddart who lived next to one of America’s most polluted rivers and transformed herself from a 1960s housewife to a citizen leader and environmental hero honored by the United Nations.

Accepting the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award will be documentary filmmaker and producer Bryan Single on behalf of his acclaimed CHILDREN OF WAR. The documentary, set in Uganda, had its world premiere last fall at the United Nations in New York. Single will be on hand to accept the honor which will be presented following the film’s screening Saturday at 3 pm.

Ara Keshishian is a Motion Picture Talent agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), an entertainment and sports agency based in Los Angeles with offices in Nashville, New York City, London, and Beijing. Keshishian works in the Los Angeles office and represents such actors as Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Édgar Ramírez, Eva Mendes, Jeffrey Wright, Jay Baruchel, Peter Krause, Kerry Washington, Ellen Barkin, and Billy Crudup, among others. Keshishian began his career as an intern in the CAA mailroom in 1997.

Keshishian graduated from California State University at Fresno with a degree in Speech Communication and received his JD from Loyola Law School in 1999.

Jeff Speich is a Motion Picture Talent agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), an entertainment and sports agency based in Los Angeles with offices in Nashville, New York City, London, and Beijing. Speich works in the Los Angeles office and represents many actors, including Robin Wright, Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Zach Quinto, among others.
Jeff graduated from University of Southern California and began his career at CAA in 1999.

Owen Ward served as Vice President, Theatrical Marketing at Lionsgate and has overseen campaigns for films such as Academy Award® winner PRECIOUS, the TYLER PERRY and SAW franchises, and THE EXPENDABLES. He is also an avid producer with a love for independent film, most recently completing a short documentary on the city of West Hollywood.

Nominees Best Feature/Best Screenplay/Best Director
Fred and Vinnie
Director: Steve Skrovan
Producer: Jerry P. Magana
Writer: Fred Stoller
Fred Stoller works as an actor in Hollywood, playing an assortment of deliverymen, clerks, and other oddball schnooks. The rest of the time he wanders the streets researching his pet book project, “Restaurants You Don’t Feel Self-Conscious Eating Alone At.” He has a long distance bond with his old friend from back East, Vinnie D’Angelo (Angelo Tsarouchas), who these days hardly ever leaves his rent-free basement apartment. Fred calls Vinnie whenever he has an odd anecdote to relate about some dumb thing he overheard a lady say at the post office or how the owner of a video store refused to wish him a “Happy Holiday” because Fred was renting a porno on Christmas. For Vinnie, these mundane stories are great adventures. It’s a quirky, symbiotic relationship where Fred provides Vinnie with a window to the outside world, while Vinnie is the adoring parent Fred never had. That relationship is put to the test when Vinnie ventures cross country to stay with Fred to give show business a try.

My Uncle Rafael (North American premiere)
Director: Marc Fusco
Producers: Michael Garrity, Vahik Pirhamzei
Writers: Scott Yagemann, Vahik Pirhamzei
A desperate TV producer convinces an old Armenian Uncle to star in a new reality show. Cultures collide when Uncle Rafael is thrown into the Schumacher family household where he has one week to save a broken and dysfunctional American family from falling apart. The only rule—everyone must follow his rules. Starring Vahik Pirhamzei, John Michael Higgins, Missi Pyle, Anthony Clark, Rachel Blanchard, Joe Lo Truglio, Anahid Avanesian, Carly Chaikin, Sage Ryan, Ursula Taherian, and Lupe Ontiveros.

Three Veils (L.A. premiere)
Director: Rolla Selbak
Producer: Ahmad Zahra
Writer: Rolla Selbak
Three Veils is a film about three young Middle-Eastern women living in the U.S., each with her own personal story. Leila is engaged to be married, however as the wedding night approaches, she becomes less and less sure of how her life is playing out. Amira is a very devout Muslim, but is dealing with her deep repressions about her intimate feelings toward women. Nikki is acting out her promiscuity as she battles her own demons after a tragic death in the family. As the film progresses, all three stories unfold and blend into each other as connections are revealed between the three women.

Nominees Best Documentary

USA, India
Directors: Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas
Executive Producer: Robin Raina
Dilli is a moving collection of heartfelt interviews with Delhi slum dwellers. Its lens focuses on a group of dwellers, bringing to life the untold story of the mass exodus of thousands who were bulldozed from their homes and transferred to a makeshift facade – Bawana – without water, shelter or drainage, while the city was being beautified for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
*Hindi with English Subtitles

The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia
Directors: Arman Yeritsyan, Inna Sahakyan
Producer: Vardan Hovhannisyan
Writers: Arman Yeritsyan, Inna Sahakyan
Zhora and Knyaz were once the most celebrated masters of tightrope dancing in Armenia. Today, they are the only surviving performers who can keep this ancient art alive against the current of contemporary society, but all their students grow up and find other interests in life. Why is their art not important anymore?

Occupation Has No Future
Director: David Zlutnick
Producer: David Zlutnick
Writer: David Zlutnick
Occupation Has No Future studies Israeli militarism, examines the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, and explores the work of Israelis and Palestinians working against militarism and occupation. Featuring interviews with former IDF soldiers, Israeli conscientious objectors, and Palestinian grassroots organizers.
English, Hebrew, Arabic (with subtitles)

Armenia, USA
Director: Robert Davidian
Producer: Robert Davidian
Writer: Robert Davidian
What happens when Armenian-Americans pick up and move to Armenia?
Nominees for Best Short Film

Bolis (North American PREMIERE)
USA, Turkey
Director: Eric Nazarian
Writer: Eric Nazarian
Producers: Huseyin Karabey, Sevil Demirci.
Armenak is a successful oud player who is in Istanbul for the first time for an important musical event. His feelings toward the city, which his Armenian grandfather fled at the tip of the sword in 1915, are very complex. Armenak arrives full of prejudice, expecting to hate the place, but instead finds it very familiar. The decision comes naturally to him to search for his grandfather’s old musical instrument shop with only an old photo and a street name. Is it destiny or coincidence that leads him to his destination?

Folie a Deux
Director: Armen Khechoumian
Producer: Jessica Goldenberg
Writer: Armen Khechoumian

The story of two strangers who escape their melancholy lives and embark on a series of imaginary dates.

France, Armenia
Director: Levon Minasian
Producers: Boris Briche, Jennifer Sabbah
Writer: Levon Minasian
Thirteen years after the Armenian city of Leninakan was destroyed in an earthquake, Loussiné, a thirteen-year-old orphan, lives with her grandfather in a “domik” – a prefabricated small house. She is dumb, but a talented pianist. To prepare for an international competition, the Ministry of Culture lends her a beautiful piano. But when the instrument is delivered, it becomes clear that the “domik” is too small to hold a piano…Starring Yervand Manaryan and Gerald Papasian.
*Armenian with English Subtitles

Special Awards

2011 Breakthrough Performance Award
Vahik Pirhamzei for My Uncle Rafael (USA)

Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award
Children of War (USA, Uganda)
Director: Bryan Single – 2011 Armin T. Wegner Award Recipient
Producers: Bryan Single, Farzad Karimi, Timothy Beckett
Associate Producers: Anahid Aramouni Keshishian, Shannon McBrien, Grant Inglett
AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation and Stewardship

Marion Stoddart: The Work Of 1000 (USA)
Director: Susan Edwards (Award Recipient)
Producer: Dorie Clark
Writer: Susan Edwards
Marion Stoddart: The Work Of 1000 And Children Of War will screen consecutively on Saturday, September 24 beginning at 3pm and will be free to the public.

Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing the Los Angeles community’s environment and supporting artists who bridge the cultural divide. AFFMA annually stages concerts, art exhibits, networking events, film benefits and its signature event, Arpa International Film Festival which will be held from September 22 to 24 in Hollywood, CA. For more information or sponsorship and advertising opportunities, please visit or call 323-663-1882. To send AFFMA a tax-deductible donation, please mail donations to AFFMA – 2919 Maxwell St., Los Angeles, CA 90027. All donations go towards the production of Arpa International Film Festival.

Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award is named after German author and human rights activist Armin Theophil Wegner (October 16, 1886 – May 17, 1978).

AT&T Real Yellow Pages and YP.COM presents the festival’s third annual AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation and Stewardship. The award highlights the shared commitment between the Festival and its Presenting Sponsor, AT&T, to foster green initiatives in cinema. Visit YP.COM, the new YELLOWPAGES.COM website for more information.


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