HOLLYWOOD—The 12th annual Arpa International Film Festival will present over 50 films, post-screening receptions, and a star-studded closing night awards ceremony over three autumn days (Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25) at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
On Friday evening, October 23, the festival presents the long anticipated North American premiere of Haik Gazarian’s “VENEZZIA” starring two of Latin America ‘s hottest talents, Alfonso Herrera and Ruddy Rodriguez. Gazarian makes his directorial debut in this epic love story set on the Venezuelan coast of the Caribbean Sea during World War II. Joining Gazarian at the red carpet premiere, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m., will be co-stars Herrera, one of Mexico’s most popular actors and former member of the Grammy-nominated pop group RBD, and Rodriguez, a former Miss World Venezuela, whose more than two decades in television and film have garnered her a legion of devoted fans in the Spanish speaking world and beyond. Opening night proceedings will be emceed by REELZChannel’s Jill Simonian. “VENNEZZIA” screens at 8:00 p.m. with a reception to follow. Tickets to the red carpet premiere screening of “VENEZZIA” and the post-screening reception are available at www.affma.org for a purchase price of $40.
More than 50 feature films, shorts, documentaries, music videos and animations will screen during the festival. “There’s an incredible buzz around the films we’ve been able to get this year. Our programming department tracked the global film festival scene for the last year and singled out the exemplary films relating to Armenians or made by Armenian filmmakers, says Arpa Festival director Alex Kalognomos. “2009 happens to be a standout year for cinema featuring films by Armenian filmmakers – and we’re so fortunate to be screening all of them at Arpa.”
In the documentary lineup, this year’s official selection includes “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; and “Whispering Memories,” the story of a community of Armenians in Turkey who stayed behind during the genocide and silently converted to Islam.
This year’s competitive short film category includes “Hove”, starring Olympia Dukakis. “Hove” is a film about the powerful, unresolved legacy of the Armenian Genocide, directed by Alex Webb. Actor-Writer-Director Shant Hamassian’s “Spaceman on Earth,” which debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival will be featured in a program of shorts by Los Angeles filmmakers.
Screening in the prestigious feature film category is acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Ozcan Alper’s acclaimed “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”), the first feature length film ever to be shot in Homshetsma, a dialect of Armenian that has been preserved in the Artvin province of northeastern Turkey for hundreds of years; and one of the festival’s most anticipated films. Chasing Tchaikovsky,” a laugh out loud comedy about marriage and moviemaking directed by Greg Lalazarian and starring Art Aroustamian and veteran actress Ann Magnuson.
Other films feature the work of such acclaimed figures as Sting (“Battle of the Xingu”), such actors as Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons (“Power of the Powerless”) and “24” star Kiefer Sutherland (“Return to Mexico City),” which also includes interviews with President Barack Obama and Tom Brokaw. It tells the story of Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos who return to Mexico City 40 years after stirring controversy by raising their fists in the air during their medal ceremony and, in the process, raising awareness of the struggle for civil rights in America and basic human rights throughout the world.
Armin T. Wegner Award
This year’s recipient of Arpa’s Armin T. Wegner Award, which each year is awarded to a motion picture that contributes to the fight for social conscience and human rights, is “Voices from Inside: Israelis Speak.” “This feature length documentary film is based on the stories of 16 Jewish Israeli voices of conscience, each representing a different facet of the peace movement inside Israel,” says Zaven Khachaturian, Arpa Film Festival Curator who invited the film to the festival.
AEF Receives ARPA Foundation Award
Armenian Educational Foundation will receive this year’s Arpa Foundation Award. Over its 60 year history, AEF has been committed to Armenian youth and the pursuit of higher learning. To that end, the organization has built and supported the establishment of hundreds of Armenian day schools around the world. A Sevag Vrej-directed, Christina Shakarian-produced short film documenting AEF’s educational endeavors in Armenia will be screened during the closing night awards ceremony. “We are thrilled to recognize the filmmakers and AEF’s leaders for their cinematic and humanitarian contributions. The legacy of AEF will be eternal – for as long a children have schools in which they learn and advance,” says AFFMA Founder Sylvia Minassian. “By recognizing AEF, we hope to build unity within our community. AEF and AFFMA have a shared mission – never more so than now, when a film by young filmmakers document for the first time AEF’s monumental contribution, spanning generations of diasporan Armenians. AFFMA salutes AEF.”
AT&T Real Yellow Pages
The festival is pleased to call AT&T Real Yellow Pages a major sponsor this year. The current issue of the Glendale-Burbank Real Yellow Pages features the Arpa International Film Festival on its cover. AT&T will present the Arpa/AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation and Stewardship at the 2009 Arpa Awards Gala and Reception, which will be hosted by the illustrious Hollyscoop Girls – Nora Gasparian, Ani Esmailian, and Diana Magpapian. “These three woman are taking Hollywood by storm. Their website (www.hollywscoop.com) is a destination point for industry-insiders,” comments Arpa Festival Co-director Tina Yesayan. “They are breaking down walls for Armenians and women who struggle to enter the Hollywood community.” 2009 will be Hollyscoop’s third year participating at Arpa.
This year’s official selection includes films from over 20 countries including Armenia , Turkey , Brazil , France , Peru , Canada , Malawi , Spain , China , India , Iran and many more. To reserve ALL -ACCESS passes in advance, please visit www.AFFMA.org
AFFMA was founded in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing our community’s artistic environment and supporting artists who seek to bridge the cultural divide. For more information about becoming an AFFMA member, volunteer, or filmmaker please visit www.AFFMA.org or call 323-663-1882. To send AFFMA a tax-deductible donation, please mail donations to AFFMA – 2919 Maxwell St. , Los Angeles , CA 90027. All donations go towards the production of AFFMA’s annual film festival.