ARTsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation announced that “Gate to Heaven” («Դրախտի դարպասը»), a film by Jivan Avetisyan, is included in AMC’s independent programing schedule this year. This is a highly competitive program, which accepts only four to eight titles each year.
“Gate to Heaven” will see its theatrical release starting October 21, at the following locations:
- Glendale, Americana at Brand 18
- Detroit, Forum 30
- Las Vegas, Town Square 18
- Orange, Orange 30
“Gate to Heaven” is an international war drama starring Richard Sammel, Tatiana Spivakova, Sos Janibekyan, Leo Pobedonoscevas, Naira Zakarian, and directed by Jivan Avetisyan.
In the midst of our unprecedented times coupled with the brutal war of Artsakh (NagornoKarabakh), “Gate to Heaven,” a film from Armenia/Artsakh, managed to receive a considerable amount of publicity especially in Europe, Russia, and the U.S. The riveting war drama takes place in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) during the four-day war in 2016.
The story, haunted by his past, German journalist Robert Sternvall returns to Artsakh after 22 years when the Nagorno-Karabakh war reignites to cover the conflict. In the result of his journalistic investigation, Robert meets Sophia Marti, a young opera singer, who happens to be the daughter of missing photojournalist Edgar Martirosyan, whom Robert abandoned in captivity during the fall of the village of Talish of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1992. As their romance develops, Robert’s guilty conscience catches up and he must face the truth of his past actions. Meanwhile the editor-in-chief of Berlin Post is preparing a grand exhibition to showcase Robert’s talent and celebrate his accomplishments, which is set to take place soon. Sophia is eager to attend the prestigious event not knowing what awaits her…
German actor Richard Sammel is best known for his role as Thomas Eichhorst on the FX television series “The Strain” (2014–2017). He has appeared in more than 100 films and television series since 1991. An indelible performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009 brought Sammel international recognition.
Richard’s other film credits include “Les Miserable du XX Siècle” for director Claude Lelouche; “Life is Beautiful” for director Roberto Begnini; the original “Taxi” written by Luc Besson; “Casino Royale” for director Martin Campbell; “Beauty and the Beast” opposite Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux for director Christophe Gans; and most recently McG’s “Three Days to Kill” opposite Kevin Costner.Richard’s other film credits include “Les Miserable du XX Siècle”; “Life is Beautiful”; :”Taxi”; “Casino Royale”; “Beauty and the Beast”; and “Three Days to Kill.”
“The most striking aspect of Avetisyan’s work is certainly the psychological depth of its main characters, in particular that of Robert and Sophia. Robert is a veteran in his field, incapable to achieve a good work-life balance, tremendously stubborn and characterized by a complex personality; meanwhile, Sophia is shown in all of her fragility and seems to believe in the healing power of music. Their romance is staged with no sugarcoating, but still with an adequate, credible level of tenderness and passion. In more general terms, the well-written lead characters are backed by solid interpretations and a good supporting cast. Worth mentioning in this respect are the performances from Sos Janibekyan (playing a local journalist accompanying Robert during his investigation), Leonarda Pobedonoscevas (Sophia’s partner) and Benedict Freitag (Robert’s editorin-chief), whose appearances – brief but incisive enough – contribute to disclose part of the two leads’ backstories. The resolution of the plot is ultimately convincing and filled with an adequate dose of melancholy and poetry. Throughout the film, the war is present but in the backdrop, as a sort of catalyst capable of disrupting all the characters’ stability and opening their most intimate struggles”. – Cineuropa
“Gate to Heaven” was recently included in Be Epic! London International Film Festival held from September 2 to 3, as the opening film of the festival. The film won in the category of “Best Cinematography.”
“Gate to Heaven” won “Best Production Design” and “Best Sound Mixer” on April 15, at the third Anahit Film Awards held by the Armenian National Film Academy.
“Gate to Heaven” also won four awards at the Ontario International Film Festival (ONIFF) in Canada on October 24: “Best Sound,” “Best Music,” “Best Script for the International Feature,” and “Best International Feature Film.”
The composer of the film, Michele Josia of Italy, swept two incredible awards for his beautifully composed soundtrack. He first received the Silver Medal – Outstanding Achievement – “Soundtrack for Film and Television” at the Global Music Awards in California. Michele’s second recognition comes as a finalist for “Best Score of the Month” at the American Tracks Music Award.
The film’s creative team teamed up with MPM Premium International Sales of France early Spring of 2020 to participate in the Virtual Screening of Cannes Marché du Film. MPM Premium has received numerous leads across the globe, including the United States.
Quickly thereafter, “Gate to Heaven” was selected at Moscow International Film Festival Non- Competition Category. The creators of the film received an official letter by Festival Director six hours after the Artsakh War began and stated “to avoid clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Moscow as a “precautionary measure linked directly to Karabakh,” the film will be removed from the Festival.”
The team also received conflicting information that the screening had been cancelled “as the film is being removed from the official program due to the political pressures received by Azerbaijani government officials.”
Within few weeks of the Moscow International Film Festival, the Golden Apricot International Film Festival took place in Yerevan, Armenia. During the festival, the program called “Dedication to Artsakh” was launched, and “Gate to Heaven” was screened during the program. All proceeds of the program were donated to Artsakh.
In December 2020, Cinema for Peace Foundation in Berlin hosted a unique Virtual Screening of “Gate to Heaven” and Conference for Peace on Nagorno Karabakh. Lead actor – Richard Sammel from Germany, Producer Kestutis Drazdauskas from Lithuania, and Executive Producer Adrineh Mirzayan from USA served as panelists and discussed topics such as the response of the international community, the role of civil society organizations in peacekeeping, and the role of filmmakers, human rights experts and EU politicians.
September 2021 saw the Glendale premiere of Armenian international award-winning film director Jivan Avetisyan’s third feature length film, “Gate to Heaven.” Held in the legendary Alex Theatre, despite of Covid, several hundreds of viewers were in attendance at the screening organized by the ARTsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation. The evening kicked off with a VIP Pre-Show Reception with 450 people in the foyer of the theater. Voice of America’s Premiere coverage can be found online.
“Gate to Heaven” also saw its screening in Belgium, Boston, Detroit, Maryland, Montreal, New Jersey, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Toronto.
The film screened in Montreal at the Guzzo Mega-Plex Spheretech. The film ran from October 16 through November 4, 2021.
All proceeds from each screening will benefit Jivan Avetisyan’s next film project, “Revival.”
Jivan Avetisyan and his team are currently creating two feature film projects – “Revival” and “Black List,” which are currently in the Development phase. “Revival” gained international interest by the selection committee of Berlinale Talents, Berlin International Film Festival. Jivan Avetisyan was selected amongst 3,400 applicants to attend Berlinale Talents 2020. Berlinale Talents 2020 Within the talent program, Jivan Avetisyan became the subject of a documentary by German international Broadcaster Deutsche Welle, DW Documentary Deutsche Welle.
The project was also selected by Roy W. Dean Grant in the “Hot Films in the Making” category. The organization, From the Heart Productions, hosted the film on their website for a year to help us raise funds.
“Black List” has been inspired by the life of Alexander Lapshin, a popular Russian-Israeli travel blogger who unwittingly found himself on Azerbaijan’s infamous Black List.
Jivan Avetisyan spent 38 days of his life in the September 2020 Artsakh War, which began end of September and ceased on November 9, 2020. Jivan Avetisyan spent a substantial amount of time documenting all the atrocities and war crimes committed against the Armenian population of Artsakh including his family. He will integrate these photos and videos in his future film projects.
Jivan Avetisyan’s quest is to continue to tell these stories, bring awareness on Artsakh, and promote peace through the art of filmmaking.
Donations for Jivan Avetisyan’s new project, “Revival,” can be made online.
For more information call +374 55 316230 or visit Fish eye Art Cultural Foundation’s website.
Finding a distributor maybe harder than making a movie. The team at Fish eye Art Cultural Foundation is dedicated to connecting independent films with mainstream cinema. “Gate to Heaven” was produced by Fish eye Art Cultural Foundation (Armenia), Artbox Production House (Lithuania), 7 Morgen Filmproduktion (Germany), Glaam Media Invest (France), ARTsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation (USA), Timeless Production Group (Bulgaria), The Lab – a Media Production Company (Czech Republic) and Ala Bianca SRL (Italy).
Fish eye Art Cultural Foundation was founded in 2014. The company mission is to create, manage and implement cultural projects, particularly films, based on universal human values. To date, the company has produced “Tevanik” (2014). “The Last Inhabitant” (2016) and” Gate to Heaven” (2019) films, which have won many international awards and were created with international cooperation. The company has experience of approximately 8 years in collaboration and joint ventures with local and international leading companies, actors, creative groups and individuals.