On Sunday March 29th, the Hamazkayin Pasadena “Shahan Shahnour” chapter, (along with the sponsorship of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational & Cultural Society Western USA Regional Executive), hosted the DVD Release of The Blue Hour written and directed by Eric Nazarian.
The commencement began with opening remarks by Mark Arax (In My Father’s Name & West of the West).
Arax opened his speech with a heartfelt nod toward Nazarian. He explained that because he felt comfortable behind the books, not in front of the micropohne, he had agreed to MC the event for no other reason that Nazarian was his good friend, and he truly believes that The Blue Hour is an excellent film.
Arax put great emphasis in explaining to the audience that this event had greater purpose then simply celebrating The Blue Hour. “This is not just a celebration of film,” began Arax, but a “celebration of our culture and survival.”
The organization responsible for hosting the event, Hamazkayin, was initially founded to help the recognition and advancement of the artists and culture of Armenia’s. Giving Hamazkayin its well deserved recognition, Arax pointed out that this night would be about bridging the gap of all the different Armenian sects. An event of this magnitude, honoring such an exemplary Armenian artist left no room for Armenia’s to divide within each other.
Arax also gave wholehearted thanks to all the committee members who had spent countless hours slaving over what they knew was a worthy event. Specifically, he mentioned Nora Yacoubian, and commended her vision which had dreamt of this event, and praised her drive which made it a reality.
As the evening continued, Nora Ycoubian took the stage. She profusely thanked all her co-committee members, as well as all others who were involved in making the event a great success. She acknowledged and greatly thanked all the sponsors of the e evening, as well as the “Shahan Shahnour” chapter without whom this evening would not have been possible.
Nora’s speech was followed by a wonderful performance by Antranig Kzirian on the Oud. As the audience discussed the evening amongst themselves, Kzirian played his hauntingly beautiful Armenian melodies as a background to the special event. Nanor Jamakordzian and Gohar Alexanian then took the stage and hypnotized the audience with their beautiful melodies on the violin and piano. Following Jamakordzian and Alexanian, Heibert Sarian took the stage. His voice belted out the famous Groong with such passion and conviction, that he awed the audience into silence.
After dinner was served and the musical acts were complete, Mark Arax took the stage once again to introduce Eric Nazarian and The Blue Hour. His great admiration was felt when he looked at Nazarian and said, “hats off to you, brother – you have made your whole family, all us Armenia’s, very proud.“
Arax felt as though the most intriguing aspect of The Blue Hour was its lack of dialogue, and the flawless method in which this was executed. When Arax asked Nazaria n about his choice of minimal dialogue, Nazarian replied “I wanted to do it visually.” Despite the lack of dialogue, “I sat there transfixed” said Arax “the images speak their own language.” Piquing the curiosity of all those who hadn’t yet seen the film, Arax raved “it is not until the lights go out, that the abstracting of the movie becomes the reality.”
“We need to embrace our writers and artists even when it is not about Armenian issues” said Arax, referencing his earlier theme about unity among Armenia’s. He stressed that supporting up and coming artists like Nazarian was imperative to the advancement of Armenia’s, and their culture.
After a brief bio of Nazarian, Arax handed over the stage to the filmmaker himself.
Eric Nazarian was born in Armenia and emigrated to the United States at the tender age of four. By the age of five, he was living in America and going on walks along the Los Angeles River with his grandfather Hovhannes. Seeing as how The Blue Hour is built around people living in or around the Los Angeles River, it was evident that these momen’s had truly affected him.
In his teenage years, Nazarian grew up among Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and freshly immigrated Armenia’s from all over the world. Eric said that, "Los Angeles was somewhat Balkanized when I was growing up. I had friends from all over the world in this melting pot yet there was a lot of tension that I later hoped to break through film, a truly global language." Growing up in a household where film was loved, and knowing that he would eventually pursue a career in film saved Eric. After graduation from USC Film School, Nazarian traveled the world, gaining perceptive and gathering experiences.
Nazarian began his speech with a warm and genuine thanks to all those who had made this night possible for him. He thanked their “collective passion and spirit,” as they spent hours, days and night making sure this event would give Eric and his film the recognition they deserved throughout the community.
Speaking about The Blue Hour, Nazarian mentioned how he had traveled the world with this film, going through the film festival circuit. Along the way, many people has asked him why he made The Blue Hour, or what his specific inspirations were. "Through the language o f cinema I wanted to examine how we keep passing each other by in this big global city and the ties that bind us that we are sometimes unaware of," Nazarian said.
Nazarian spoke about making movies being like constructing a building, except that “you build movies with images.” “Cinema is the seventh art” he said, “movies are the grand conversion of all other art forms, becoming increasingly relevant to our generation today.”
Nazarian made sure to give his producers, Lynnette Ramirez and Brian Knappmiller the enormous gratitude he felt they deserved. He also made sure to thank his actors, as he had no money to pay them, and the actors came through because they truly believed in the film.
As Nazarian trailed off in his speech, he introduced his film through a short trailer. As the trailer began, it’s quiet, meditative, and deeply moving imagery left a silent blanket over the crowd. Everyone was drawn in to Eric’s world, lost into the emotions he portrayed so easily thought his images.
The banquet was concluded with more thanks between committee members, and a quick word from Viken Yacoubian, the Chairperson of Hamaz kayin Regional Executive Board.
The Blue Hour is truly a film worth seeing. It speaks to audiences from all walks of life, reaching out and evoking emotions with little more than images and minimalist dialogue. With the theme of being connected being emphasized throughout the night, Eric drove the point home with the depiction of these characters who were strangers, yet were connected through an invisible thread.
For more information on The Blue Hour, please visit www.thebluehourmovie.com.