Jivan Avetisyan’s “Gate to Heaven” premiered in both Armenia and Artsakh this month. The October 17 premiere of the film in Yerevan was attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Centered on the 2016 April War in Artsakh, the film tells the story of Robert Stenval, a journalist who returns to Artsakh to investigate and cover the Four-Day War. While in Artsakh, Stenval meets a young opera singer, Sofia Martirosyan – the daughter of missing photojournalist Edgar Martirosyan, who Stenval had met during the fall of the village of Talish in 1992. As the film progresses, Sofia and Robert’s friendship develops into a more romantic relationship.
“The film will be accessible to foreigners who have no idea about Artsakh. This film differs from my other films in terms of cast members, structure, plot, and more. The film is also planned to be presented at various international festivals. We are planning to premiere the film in a number of other countries as well,” commented Avetisyan in an interview with Artsakhpress. He also mentioned that his goal is to see Artsakh both free and independent.
The Artsakh premier of the film was attended by the film’s production team and cast members. Richard Sammel, who won “Best Actor” at the Syracuse International Film Festival in 2012, plays the part of the film’s protagonist Robert. In an interview with Artsakhpress, he said, “The film is also about tolerance; it can be a cultural ambassador to other countries. I had high expectations from the film, which came true… Artsakh is a developing country and every person who wants to get full information about Artsakh must be in Artsakh. People who live here strive for peace.” During the interview, Sammel revealed that, due to his participation in the film, he has been banned from entering Azerbaijan
The movie was filmed in Artsakh, Armenia, and Lithuania. Co-producing countries include Armenia, Lithuania, Germany, France, U.S., Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Italy.