HOLLYWOOD–The 12th Annual Arpa International Film Festival will present Armenian Educational Foundation (AEF) with its prestigious Arpa Foundation Award for the film, “Because Education Matters.”
“For almost 60 years, AEF has been among the most enduring and productive organizations of the Armenian Diaspora,” says festival director, Alex Kalognomos. “With the making of ‘Because Education Matters,’ this landmark organization will be recognized for its global educational outreach, and for producing a poignant film in alliance with Arpa’s mission to cultivate global empathy.” The new film will receive its world premiere at Arpa International Film Festival on Sunday, October 25 at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The festival is produced annually by the Arpa Foundation for Film, Music & Art (AFFMA).
Since 1950, AEF has offered support to thousands of students and hundreds of schools throughout the world. AEF has provided scholarships to deserving students, built and renovated Armenian schools, published Armenian textbooks, established the AEF Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA (currently held by Professor Richard G. Hovannisian), and sponsored Armenian educational seminars and conferences. Recent AEF projects include renovating over 180 village schools in Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk; providing classroom furniture and school supplies for the renovated village schools; providing scholarships in the United States, Armenia, Artsakh and Lebanon; and offering financial assistance for Davidian & Mariamian Educational Foundation’s after school Armenian programs in Glendale and several neighboring cities’ public schools.
The Film – “Because Education Matters”
When AEF’s board commissioned the project, Christina Hacopian (“Gossip Girl,” “Bride Wars,” “Dirty Dancing”) took on the producing job as a passion project. Hacopian, a seasoned DVD and EPK producer credited with over 50 projects for top Hollywood studios, says “AEF is an amazing organization. It brings children access to education and focuses on the most crucial time in a child’s life, a time that comes with many deprivations in countless Armenian villages.” Hacopian continues, “My intent was to bring audiences an awareness of AEF’s history, its successes, and the incredible amount of work that still needs to be done. The goal was to open the public’s eyes and let the Diaspora know that there is a need for new and safe schools, and an overall need for assistance in the education of the youth in Armenia.”
With this considerable mission in mind, Hacopian approached director Sevag Vrej whose credits include the award-winning feature film N-4, Serj Tankian’s MVPA-nominated “Feed Us” music video, and several MTV-style concert videos for such artists as Fergie and System of a Down.
Together, they set forth to document the 60-year legacy of AEF. A mixture of original footage filmed in Armenia and footage from AEF’s archives were used to cinematically realize AEF’s educational endeavors in Armenia and America. “The most impressive parts of the film show the dilapidated schools – in breathtaking Armenian landscapes – transform into beautiful facilities that fully function and make a significant impact in the education and lives of Armenian children,” adds Hacopian.
ARPA International Film Festival Salutes AEF
Forty-six films, post-screening receptions, and a star-studded Closing Night Awards Gala and Ceremony will take place over three autumn days (Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25). AEF’s film will receive its world premiere during Arpa’s Closing Night Awards Gala Ceremony. The film was embraced by the programmers of the festival. “We are thrilled to recognize AEF leaders and the filmmakers for their cinematic and humanitarian contributions,” says Arpa International Film Festival founder, Sylvia Minassian. “Our mission is to create a dynamic forum for emerging filmmakers addressing the issues encompassed in AEF’s film. The legacy of AEF will be eternal – spanning generations of Armenians, for as long children have schools in which they learn and advance,” says Minassian. “Through the power of film, our festival can promote AEF’s mission and monumental contributions. And together, both organizations build unity within our community. We salute AEF.”
This year’s official selection of films includes “Because Education Matters” as well as films from over 20 countries including Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil, France, Peru, Canada, Malawi, Spain, China, India, Iran and many more. On Friday, October 23, the festival kicks off with the long anticipated North American premiere of Haik Gazarian’s “VENEZZIA.” Red carpet premiere begins at 6:30 p.m., and the film at 8:00 p.m. with a reception to follow. Other highlights include “Anjar: Flowers, Goats and Heroes,” a film about the history of the people of Musa Dagh by Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Noura Kevorkian; “Autumn of the Magician,” an homage to legendary Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra and Armenia’s official selection in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2010 Academy Awards; “Komitas Hairig,” which tells the story of the beloved Komitas Vardapet; “Husher,” a film which documents the testimony of Armenian Genocide survivors who settled in Italy; “Whispering Memories,” the story of a community of Armenians in Turkey who stayed behind during the Genocide and silently converted to Islam; the Olympia Dukakis vehicle “Hove,” a film about the powerful, unresolved legacy of the Genocide, directed by Alex Webb; actor-writer-director Shant Hamassian’s “Spaceman on Earth,” which debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Turkish filmmaker Ozcan Alper’s acclaimed “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”), the first feature length film ever to be shot in Homshetsma; Chasing Tchaikovsky,” a laugh-out-loud comedy about marriage and moviemaking directed by Greg Lalazarian. Other films feature the work of such acclaimed figures as Sting, Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons (“Power of the Powerless”) and “24” star Kiefer Sutherland (“Return to Mexico City,” which also features interviews with President Barack Obama and Tom Brokaw).
Hacopian concludes, “Arpa International Film Festival allows for individuals and organizations with an important message to be heard through the most impactful art form, in my opinion, and that is filmmaking. The festival’s recognition makes those of us involved feel incredibly grateful to have this platform to share our experiences. AEF is humbled by the new generation that will get to learn of its missions and goals through this film.”
To become a festival sponsor or to purchase tickets to the Closing Night Awards Gala at the historic Egyptian Theatre, please visit www.AFFMA.org or call 323-663-1882. Tickets to the Closing Night Awards Gala, which includes cocktails and a dinner reception, may be purchased for $75. Gala tickets are also available through the purchase of a VIP 3-day All-Access Pass at the special rate of $150. For further information on AEF, please call (818) 242-4154 or visit www.aefweb.org.