YEREVAN—Asbarez has confirmed that Mel Gibson and Mikayel Israyelyan have met and discussed East of Byzantium with Los Angeles Based filmaker Roger Kupelian. This follows the announcement by the Armenian President Serzh Sarkissian about the same project, made earlier this month.Gibson’s interest in doing a project on an Armenian history was initiated by Mikayel Israyelyan, who is a good friend of the acclaimed Director. The CEO of Muse Lifestyle Group set up the recent meeting between Gibson, Kupelian and writer Walt Kirn (who wrote the story for Clooney’s “Up in the Air”). Although the meeting was very positive, it was still preliminary (Gibson is looking to direct a Viking film this year, called “Berserker”).
Israyelyan was approached some months ago by President Sarkissian’s representatives to do a film on Vartanank. Israyelyan is excited to bring Roger Kupelian on board to collaborate with the team (Since Kupelian had already been developing East of Byzantium). Israyelyan, originally from Armenia, had presented Gibson with Kupelian’s extensive materials, and this had prompted the meeting.
Kupelian’s East of Byzantium chronicles the history of Armenians from the adoption of Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD to the Battle of Avarayr in 451 AD
East of Byzantium was conceived in New Zealand in 2002, when Kupelian was working on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The script made the rounds in Hollywood and released a trailer. Recently, the first graphic novel inspired by East of Byzantium, War Gods, was successfully released and is currently being translated into Spanish.
“Armenian culture needs to embrace warrior-code based identity over one that focuses on its victimization, and this project that I have personally financed over the course of ten years has been shaped by that ideal,” said Kupelian.