BY HAROUT EKMANIAN
From The Armenian Weekly
YEREVAN—Last weekend, the 9thGolden Apricot International Film Festival (GAIFF) wrapped up its weeklong activities that successfully showcased Armenian contributions to cinema while making strides in cultural exchanges.
The winners were announced by the jury during the glamorous closing ceremony at the Latar Hotel Complex in Yerevan. Belarusian director Sergei Lozintsa’s “In the Fog” won Best Feature Film and received the Golden Apricot by director Victor Erice, the head of the jury. Loznitsa’s film, which tells a story on the western frontiers of the USSR in 1942, competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.
The Silver Apricot was given to the Polish film “It Looks Pretty from a Distance” by director Anka Sasnal and his husband, painter Wilhelm Sasnal. Young Chilean director Jose Luis Torres won the Jury Special Prize for his film “Summertime,” which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival last year.
In the documentary films genre, “Five Broken Cameras” by Palestinian freelance cameraman and activist Emad Burnat won the Golden Apricot. The film is a guidebook for the origins of peaceful struggle against occupation. Burnat went through five cameras to make the film, all broken or smashed on different occasions by Israeli soldiers.
Russian director Aleksei Vakhrushev’s documentary about the indigenous Chukchi family inhabiting the magnificent landscape of Russia’s Arctic Circle won the Special Prize and got the Silver Apricot, while Georgian director Salome Jashi’s documentary “Bakhmaro” received the Jury Special Mention.
In the best Armenian Fiction Film category, “If Only Everyone” by Natalia Belyauskene won the Golden Apricot, and “Nana” by Valerie Massadian from France received the Silver Apricot.
In the Apricot Stone Competition, Brazilian director Eduardo Moroto’s short film “When We Die at Night” won the Golden Apricot, while “Insignificant Details of the Accidental Episode,” a short film by Mikhail Mesetsky from Russia, received the Jury Special Mention. A Kazakh and Japanese joint production film “The First Rains of Spring” by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov and Sano Shinju won the FIPRESCI Award (the acronym for the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique).
Natalia Belyauskene’s “If Only Everyone” starring well-known Armenian actor Michael Poghsoian won a second award during the festival when it received the Ecumenical Jury Award. “Future Lasts Forever” by Ozcan Alper from Hamshen (Turkey) received the Commendation Prize.
Suzanne Khardalian’s documentary about her genocide survivor grandmother, “My Grandma’s Tattoos,” won the Armenian National Film Academy Award. Cassiana Der Haroutiounian, Cesar Gananian, and Gary Gananian from Brazil won the British Council Award with their road movie “Armenian Rhapsody,” a juxtaposition of musical and narrative fragments with variations in theme, intensity, and tone.
Serbian director Goran Radovanovic’s film “With Fidel Whatever Happens” won the Armenian Filmmakers Union Award. Radovanovic’s film tells the story of a remote Cuban town, where the poor celebrations of the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban revolution mirrors the bleak future of the local residents. Finally, the Hrant Matevosyan Award went to Tigrane Avedikian from France for his short film “Bad Father.”
For the past several years, the festival has provided a perfect opportunity not only for cultural exchange of expertise, but also for partnership and cooperation between filmmakers of Armenia and the world. The most notable and groundbreaking achievement of this cooperation is evident in the level of regional participation, especially from Turkey. Enis Riza and Ozcan Alper were only some of the filmmakers who participated this year from Turkey, along with a group of Turkish journalist and film critics hosted by the festival.
The logo of the 9th edition of the Golden Apricot IFF was a comma, which looks like the number nine. It symbolizes a brief stop, but it’s not long before the 10th anniversary of the festival next year, which is going to be “the greatest event ever in the region,” according to Haroutyun Khachatryan, the director of GAIFF.
“We will mark the 10th Golden Apricot IFF the best way that can happen,” he added.