BY HAROUT EKMANIAN
From The Armenian Weekly
YEREVAN—The ninth installment of the annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival kicked off in Yerevan on July 8, providing a rare opportunity for the country’s film critics and movie buffs to sample some of world cinema’s latest offerings.
The weeklong film festival opened with a gala ceremony attended by several star guests, including prominent Spanish director Victor Erice, member of the jury at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and jury president of this year’s Feature Competition at GAIFF.
The Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan and Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan were present at the tribute event to the iconic Armenian director Hamo Beknazarian on opening day. The opening ceremony was directed by actor and director Gerard Papazian from France. Beknazarian’s masterfully staged and brilliantly played comedy “Shor and Shorshor” was screened, accompanied by a live performance by Vahagn Hayrapetyan’s jazz band.
Earlier that day, the annual blessing of apricots took place in Saint Zoravor church in Yerevan. In his message, the bishop expressed hope that the festival fosters friendship and peace among nations, and then he invited everyone to taste the blessed apricots.
More than 230 artists and guests from around the globe are participating in this year’s festival featuring nearly 150 films in four competition programs: the International Feature Film Competition, the International Documentary Competition, the Armenian Panorama Competition, and Apricot Stone Competition.
This year’s novelty is the “Book and Film” program, which is being presented on the occasion of the naming of Yerevan the World Book Capital. Armenian and international classical masterpieces will be screened during this program. Programs such as “Retrospective” and “Tribute” that ran in previous years will also run this week. The “Tribute” program will mark the 90 and 85 anniversaries of Armenian directors Yuri Yerznkyan and Frunze Dovlatyan respectively.
GAIFF continues to promote regional and international cooperation in filmmaking by running the “Cinema across Borders” and “Armenia-Turkey Cinema Platform” in the framework of its events, besides organizing workshops for cinema journalists from many countries by professional film critics from the Netherlands.
“Golden Apricot has become a center that attracts those artists who present spiritual, cultural, and philosophical films,” says Haroutyun Khachatryan, the director of GAIFF. “I am thankful and happy that Yerevan is now known and loved by many famous directors internationally. The impression of each guest is an important step to promote our country everywhere, because they become the advocates of Armenia after the festival.”
The festival has been attracting world famous film makers, cinema critics, artists, journalists and fans every year in Yerevan since 2004.
Harout Ekmanian is a reporter based in Aleppo, Syria. He writes for both Armenian- and English-language publications. He began contributing to the local weekly publication “Kantsasar” while actively enrolled in youth and student associations in Syria.