GLENDALE–Prominent Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and media representatives gathered at the “House of Armenia”, the new Los Angeles office of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia, for an end-of-the-year reception and surprise ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Consul General of Armenia Grigor Hovhannissian thanked the Armenian American cineastes for their valuable contributions towards promoting Armenia and the Armenian talent in the creative capital of the world. Alex Kalognomos, Director of Arpa International Film Festival, recapped the year 2011, which was ripe in significant projects both in Hollywood and Armenia.
The highlight of the forum was the ceremony of bestowing the Golden Medal of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia upon Mrs. Sylvia Minassian, founder of Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA) and Arpa International Film Festival. Mrs. Minassian was awarded one of the highest Armenian cultural awards for her outstanding contribution to promoting Armenian cinematic arts domestically and internationally.
In a surprise award ceremony, Consul General Hovhannissian bestowed the honor to Mrs. Minassian on the 15th anniversary of Arpa International Film Festival, AFFMA’s signature event.
In 1995, with the help of other civic minded Armenians, Mrs. Minassian founded AFFMA to enhance the artistic climate of Los Angeles and bridge the cultural divide, unifying diverse people and cultures through the arts. Arpa International Film Festival was created two years later. AFFMA has staged networking events, concerts, art exhibits, fashion shows, book signings, and various fundraising events to promote emerging Armenian talents, most significantly, the international film festival.
Since 1997, the festival has honored over 100 artists and filmmakers with grants and awards. (See partial list below).
Sylvia Minassian was born in Istanbul, Turkey and came to the US in 1960. She attended California State University in Fresno (Fresno State College), and completed post-graduate work at Clairmont University and UCLA. With a teaching credential in French and Spanish, Mrs. Minassian embarked on a career in education at Carlsbad High School in Southern California. Other professional highlights include being the first female representative ever hired by Gillette Co.
She is married to Dr. Haig Minassian and they have 3 children – Levon, Lori, and Melissa – and three grandchildren. For over 25 years during her professional career and while raising her family, she volunteered for such organizations and educational institutions as AGBU (Ladies Auxiliary Chairperson); ChildHelp USA (Vice-Chairperson); Alex Pilibos High School Special Events and Educational Committees; and numerous schools and medical societies. Mrs. Minassian continues her philanthropic work through AFFMA, a non-profit 501 (3) (c) organization.
Before making the announcement of the award and in an effort to surprise Mrs. Minassian, Consul General Hovhannissian invited award-winning filmmaker Eric Naziarian and actor Ken Davitian to speak about Mrs. Minassian’s unending devotion to the arts and the development of artists. Moved to tears by the recognition, Mrs. Minassian accepted the Medal of Honor and spoke of her vision to see Armenian artists produce great works of cinematic art that would be appreciated by a global audience.
The evening was attended by a host of prominent personalities representing the Hollywood movie industry as well as Mrs. Minassian’s immediate family. Participants included Mrs. Victoria Hovhannissian; actors Anne Bedian, Marco Kahn, Ken Davitian, and Vache Mangassarian; artist and actor Vahe Berberian with wife, art decorator, Betty Berberian; filmmakers Sevak Vrej, Carla Garapedian, Haik Ghazarian and Eric Nazarian; Toni Hagopian, wife of legendary filmmaker Michael J. Hagopian; producers Maral Jerejian and Valerie McCaffrey. Members of the press included Appo Jabarian (publisher USA Armenian Life Magazine), Ani Tadevosian (Horizon), Azzie Mekhtarian (Yerevan Magazine), and Harut Sassounian. AFFMA board and committee members in attendance included Armen Toumajan, Maral Kazazian, Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, Sonia Keshishian, Jacqueline Der-Mesropian, Eileen Keusseyan, Aida Navasargian, Maro Khodaveerdi, Alex Kalognomos, Talia Tanielian, Don Hannah, and Troy and Chris Minassian.
In addition to serving as a forum for Armenian and American cineastes, this gathering, which is designed to become a tradition, will also help to take stock of major developments in the Armenian movie industry.
2012 marks the 15th anniversary of Arpa International Film Festival which will be held in September at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.