BOSTON—The Second Annual Boston Armenian Film Festival was held at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts during the weekend of May 1st – 3rd, 2009. Film enthusiasts from the greater Boston area filled Remis Auditorium each night to view critically acclaimed programs and award winning Armenian films.
As was the case during the previous year, the Armenian Film Festival was the result of a collaboration between the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA). Bianca Bagatourian, President of ADAA, noted that, “with this new initiative, Armenian films will now have their own series amidst those of other ethnic films showcased at the Boston MFA, including the Jewish, African, Palestinian, Iranian and Turkish film festivals. We are glad that our establishment of this annual program so perfectly advances our mission of projecting the Armenian voice on the world stage through the performing arts of film and theatre.”
This year’s festival was sponsored by Techfusion.com. Techfusion owner, Alfred Demirjian, remarked, “we are happy that in our second film festival at the MFA, the Armenian community was able to build upon last year’s success by increases in attendance, combined with additional financial support by individual members of the community. This will provide us with a firm base on which to schedule next year’s third annual Armenian Film Festival in May of 2010.”
Carter Long, Director of the MFA’s film program, expressed his support of Armenian film and given the level of attendance and quality of films at this year’s festival, added that he is looking forward to welcoming the festival back next year for the third annual event.
The opening night reception at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts was attended by more than 150 people, including two Armenian filmmakers from France, Levon Minasian and Varante Soudjian and Hrach Titizian from California. Bagatourian said, “ADAA is proud to present this Armenian Film Festival because we understand the opportunity that film provides for Armenians to project their culture and to tell their unique stories.” Most films were followed by question and answer periods which helped further understand the goals and themes of each individual film.
“The Blue Hour” opened the festival on Friday night. The ensemble drama by Eric Nazarian is set on the Los Angeles River and weaves the stories of loss and hope of several strangers in Los Angeles. The film is ultimately about families who do not communicate, the only thing bringing them together being the Los Angeles River.
The early evening audience on Saturday enjoyed a screening of “We Drank the Same Water” by Serge Avedikian, depicting a visit he made to the town his grandfather lived in and the haunting memories of the visit. This was preceded by a screening of two ten minute film poems by Serge Avedikian and Levon Minasian about the 1988 earthquake that destroyed the town of Leninakan.
On Saturday night, audiences enthusiastically received the screening of a charming film by Anna Melikian, “The Mermaid” (in Russian with English subtitles), about a young girl who takes a vow of silence to protest her mother’s refusal to enroll her in ballet class but ends up in a special needs school when her silence is mistaken for an intellectual disability. “The Mermaid” was a first prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival and was also Russia’s entry to the Academy Awards this year. It was preceded by “Ligne de Vie”, an animated short about the Holocaust by Serge Avedikian.
On Sunday afternoon, audiences enjoyed the quirky dramatic comedy “Float” by Hrach Titizian, which centers on the owner of an ice cream parlor who separated from his wife and moved in with his bachelor employees. It stars Hrach Titizian, Anais Thomassian and Ken Davitian. Music videos by “System of a Down Music Videos” produced by various Armenian filmmakers preceded this film.
Sunday night closed out the festival with “Autumn” (Sonbahar) by Oscar Alper, which tells the story of the struggles of a man released from prison after 10 years – a powerfully realized inner journey which includes several languages including that of the Hemshin dialect. “The Second Wind” (The Pickpocket), a short film about the meeting of a young girl and a pickpocket, by a new filmmaker from France, Varante Soudjian screened before “Autumn.”
ADAA Board member Bethel Charkoudian commented that “by establishing our film festival as an annual event it is something both Armenian and our non-Armenian film lovers alike can look forward to attending on an annual basis. While many of the films depict matters of a serious nature, the presence of the filmmakers themselves, the informal Q&A sessions, and the unique setting that the MFA provides make for a fun, upbeat atmosphere throughout the festival weekend”.
ADAA Board member and President of HarborSide Films, Paul Boghosian, said, “I myself have experienced directly the benefits of showcasing films at the MFA, such as gaining the necessary exposure and credibility for those films to secure distribution, and am enormously pleased that the young filmmakers whose films were presented will receive over time, the same benefits.”