YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—The 7th annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival came to an end this past weekend in Yerevan, with closing ceremonies conducted by French-Armenian filmmaker Serge Avedikian whose film, Barking Island officially closed the festival at the Moscow Cinema on July 18. Avedikian’s film was just one of five hundred films submitted this year from seventy five countries, the most in the festival’s short seven year life-span.
This year, Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem took the top prize, the Golden Apricot Award for Best International Feature Film, for her film, Kosmos. Kosmos tells the story of an extraordinary thief in the city of Kars. Each film was critiqued by a panel of international judges for each of the three main categories, Feature Films, Documentaries, and Armenian Panorama.
Ralph Yirikian, general manager of VivaCell-MTS, the main sponsor of this year’s event, said, “For us it is very important to bring the world closer to Armenia and Armenia closer to the world, which becomes a reality during this very festival.”
This year’s festival saw appearances by the likes of Claudia Cardinale and Atom Egoyan.
Also at the festival this year was American film director Allen Hughes. Hughes, who is of Armenian descent, made his feature film debut with his twin brother Albert with the film, The Book of Eli, and brought that film with him to Yerevan.
“It is my first visit to Armenia and I am the only in my family to be here. I must confess that my relatives are jealous, because I am here in Armenia, and that it is the same as Jerusalem for the Jewish people,” said Hughes.
“I wish the films could change the world,” said Semih Kaplanoglu, just one of several Turkish filmmakers whose films were featured at this year’s Golden Apricot Film Festival.
Despite Armenia’s stagnant diplomatic relationship with neighbor Turkey, Kaplanoglu is hopeful that the border between the two nations will be opened for the September 19 pilgrimage to Akhtamar Island on Lake Van in Turkey, an event that is to take place annually, a possible sign of thawing relations between the two rivals.
But regardless world politics and history, the festival showcased cross-cultural exchange and world heritage and art.
“This is a unique situation to our two countries, we have an opportunity to show to the world that we can create a bridge with each other, when anything is possible and the opening of this program is very shocking for me. Meeting with the Turks. It doesn’t happen in the Diaspora, but it happened here and that is great,” said the festival’s president and renowned director Atom Egoyan.
The winners of this year’s festival are as follows:
International Feature Film Competition
Best Feature Film – Golden Apricot
Kosmos, Reha Erdem, Turkey/Bulgaria
My Joy, Sergei Loznitsa, Germany/Ukraine/The Netherlands
International Documentary Competition
Best Documentary Film – Golden Apricot
Together, Pavel Kostomarov, Russia
Woman with Five Elephants, Vadim Jendreyko, Germany/Switzerland
Armenian Panorama Competition
Best Film – Golden Apricot
The Last Tightrope Performer in Armenia, Arman Yeritsyan, Inna Sahakyan, Armenia
Down Here, Comes Chahbazian, Belgium/France
Jury Special Mention
Uncle Valya, Nikolay Davtyan, Armenia
International Federation of Film Critics Award
On the Path, Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Austria/Croatia/Germany
Ecumenical Jury Award
Don’t Look in the Mirror, Suren Babayan, Armenia
How I Ended This Summer, Aleksei Popogrebsky, Russia
British Council Award
Lernavan, Marat Sargsyan, Lithuania
Hrant Matevosyan Award
Lernavan, Marat Sargsyan, Lithuania
Organizers of this year’s festival are calling the event an overall success, drawing more international attention and press than ever before.
“I was really happy that so many well-known film makers have visited Armenia and have got to know and love our country,” said director of the Golden Apricot Harutyun Khachatryan