BY ELISE KALFAYAN
Ken Davitian, a prolific Hollywood actor with roles in many popular TV shows and award-winning films, is in Belgium the last week of June to complete an Artists for Peace video, then heads to Armenia to explore film projects.
In Belgium, Davitian is performing in “The Final Game,” an original video project / collaboration of FMS Media and Artists for Peace. “The idea was given to us by Flora Martirosyan, the Armenian opera star, who sang at the Gibson Amphitheatre back in 2011 in an Artists for Peace concert,” said Davitian. “I was the MC at that concert. Now, Artists for Peace is producing a video against racism, in honor of Flora and her son. It draws attention to racism experienced by soccer players around the world. It will be released on YouTube this July 6 to coincide with the championship game of the World Cup.”
After the video shoot, Davitian heads to Armenia with his producing partner Arsen Bagdasaryan from Hollywood Film Partners to scout locations for their green-lit motion picture “Cloud Band.” The script was written by Orange County attorney Leo Alexander and based on his family’s true story of losing and trying to recover a family heirloom carpet stolen by the Turks. “It’s a romantic comedy, based on a true story, and it mixes in the story of the genocide along the way,” said Davitian. “A carpet woven to celebrate the merging of two families in a marriage was stolen, and surfaces 100 years later. The great-grandson of genocide survivors tries to recover it, encounters resistance for the carpet’s Turkish owner, but meets an Armenian girl during his travels and falls in love. The script has been acquired and developed, and we are now working out logistics, including whether we can shoot exterior locations or the whole film in Armenia.”
“Orphans of the Genocide,” a major PBS documentary which featured the work of Armenian orphans producing hand-made rugs, including the one given to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, was promoted and supported by Davitian, and he cites the work as an inspiration for his current project. “There’s a lot of discussion about the genocide in ‘Cloud Band,’” said Davitian. “The owner of the carpet won’t sell it to its original owners’ descendant because he doesn’t want to admit the facts of the genocide. The movie’s aim is to show the parties should be talking to each other.”
Davitian will arrive one week ahead of Yerevan’s Golden Apricot Film Festival, set for mid-July. He has plans to do a few classes there for film students, directors and producers. His goal is to introduce the Hollywood film industry to Armenia, and to open the doors for collaboration. “Along with preliminary location scouting, we want to see if there is government support for projects like “Cloud Band,” and other projects as well. We are prepared to do at least three major projects, all of which are close to development.”
Hollywood Film Partners has also developed a business plan and is talking to investors about building a major film studio in Armenia that would start by producing two films per year, then build out to eight, along with an accompanying theme park that would attract tourists and employ many locals. “There are all kinds of products available to buy now in Armenia. What the country needs is to put people to work, and give them a sense of hope,” emphasizes Davitian. “This is show business – movies wouldn’t be made if they didn’t make money. Such projects in Armenia are an investment opportunity for people who have the money!”
The Golden Apricot Film Festival has gained fame and popularity in recent years and will help Davitian and his partners determine the potential for international and cross-cultural alliance. Davitian hopes to bring his passion for his craft to the country and serve as Armenia’s ambassador to Hollywood. “With the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide upon us, now more than ever it is important that we tell our history. The ability of feature film-making allows us to bring several components together in depicting the tragic events that led to the massacre of over 1.5 million Armenians.”