HOLLYWOOD—The 12th Annual Arpa International Film Festival will present the North American premiere of Haik Gazarian’s “VENEZZIA” at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 23 at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
“Venezzia”, which features two of Latin America ‘s most exciting film and television stars, Alfonso Herrera and Ruddy Rodríguez, marks the directorial debut of filmmaker Haik Gazarian.
The epic love story is set on the exotic Venezuelan coast of the Caribbean Sea during World War II. A valiant team of Allied military technicians arrives off the coast to patrol enemy German U-boats. Communications Technician Frank Moore (Alfonso Herrera) is assigned to the remote town of Puerto Miranda where he becomes embroiled in a Nazi plot to sabotage oil supplies destined for Allied ports. In Puerto Miranda, Frank meets the beautiful and mysterious Venezzia (Ruddy Rodríguez in the title role). Longing to escape from the clutches of her domineering husband, Venezzia feels an instant mutual attraction to Frank.
Arpa International Film Festival director Alex Kalognomos says “‘Venezzia’ is a timeless story about passionate love and political intrigue with cutting edge special effects, breathtaking locales, and a dazzling international cast. It’s the first motion picture of its kind to emerge from Venezuela , and Arpa International Film Festival is honored to present the U.S. premiere. For a festival such as ours – one that presents the works of filmmakers exploring such issues as war and exile – ‘Venezzia’ holds cinematic and cultural relevance that is made all the more poignant in today’s world, in which human lives are devastated by war every single day.”
The film follows Frank and Venezzia’s tumultuous romance during a pivotal time in world history. Kalognomos continues, “As Gazarian’s story unfolds, a startling realism emerges about the effects of war on the lives of two people in love.’venezzia’ is such a universal story. And Gazarian is a major talent. We’re thrilled to present his film to Hollywood audiences.”
Sylvia Minassian, founder of Arpa Foundation for Film, Music & Art (AFFMA), a non-profit art organization which presents the film festival annually, notes that Gazarian is a former AFFMA filmmaker and committee member. “AFFMA has been nurturing the careers of filmmakers since 1995. Haik’s film is the fulfillment of our dream – to see past festival filmmakers produce world class films such as ‘Venezzia.’ The festival mission is to guide emerging filmmakers through the rank and file movie industry system to find success. Haik Gazarian and ‘Venezzia’ are shining examples of what can happen when the stars align.”
“Bringing ‘Venezzia’ to the big screen has been a longstanding dream of mine,” shares first time director Gazarian. “The realization of the film proves that dreams do come true. AFFMA must be commended for helping filmmakers like myself find success in this most competitive industry.” Gazarian continues, “With my first film, I wanted to tell a classic story of love and duty, which takes place during World War II. But unlike other feature films, I wanted to tell my story from the point of view of the Caribbean Sea and especially Venezuela. Few people know about the crucial role Venezuelans played in advancing Allied efforts against the Axis powers. It is important that we remember the contributions of these lesser known but equally heroic figures of the war.”
“Venezzia” will screen as the Opening Night premiere of Arpa International Film Festival on Friday, October 23. 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, whose more than two decades in television and film have garnered her a legion of devoted fans in the Spanish speaking world and beyond; executive producer Edgar Ramirez whose acting credits include “Domino,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Vantage Point”; and screenwriter Valentina Rendon. Opening night proceedings will be emceed by REELZChannel’s Jill Simonian.
The 8 p.m. screening will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew and a cocktail and appetizer reception, which will take place in the Egyptian Theatre courtyard. 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. Tickets may also be purchased at the Egyptian Theatre box office for $50 on premiere night.
“The festival is about building bridges between diverse cultures and communities through the power of film,” says Kalognomos. “Venezzia,” a film from Venezuela , gives our festival a wonderful opportunity to forge a strong bond with the Los Angeles Latino community and launch the film into the commercial market. We anticipate a 600+ attendance for the film’s premiere.” “Venezzia” will be competing in the category of Best Feature Film alongside “Chasing Tchaikovsky” ( USA ), “Li Tong” ( China ), and “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”) ( Turkey ).
Arpa International Film Festival will present 46 films, star-studded receptions and opening and closing night premieres from Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25. Included among the shorts, documentaries, music videos and animations will be several Spanish language films as well as films with themes that resonate especially with Latino audiences. Among those films are “Return to Mexico City”, “The Gynaecologist”, “Danzak” and “Point of Entry.”
“Return to Mexico City” 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. The film features interviews with Smith and Carlos as well as President Barack Obama and Tom Brokaw and is narrated by “24” star Kiefer Sutherland.
“The Gynaecologist” is a dark comedy from Spain written, directed and produced by the talented Alfonso Camarero. The plot of this ten minute short revolves around a gynecologist who is surprised by a male patient’s hospital visit. Naturally, the gynecologist throws out the joker. But the patient returns with the hospital coordinator, who orders the gynecologist to examine the boy, and that’s when the gynecologist’s troubles really begin.
“Danzak,” a Peruvian / American production, is the story of Nina, a 10 year old girl whose life dramatically changes when her father and Scissor Dancer master asks her to fulfill his last wish. Written, produced and directed by Gabriela Yepes, this beautiful film is inspired by “Agony of Rasu Ñiti,”a short story by famous Peruvian writer Jose María Arguedas.
Zeus Quijano, Jr.’s documentary short subject “Point of Entry,” a Mexico / United States production, follows Carlos, an illegal immigrant living in the United States with his wife and two children. His decision to leave his homeland Mexico as well as his parents and siblings weighs heavily on Carlos. Fifteen years old at the time he left home, Carlos is now 30 and continues to send remittances to his family. Quijano captures the love and longing felt by Carlos, his parents and siblings with grace and compassion.
Arpa Foundation for Film, Music & Art (AFFMA) was founded in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing our community’s environment a
nd supporting artists who bridge the cultural divide. The foundation as well as the film festival derive their name from the Arpa, a river that flows through Armenia . As water provides a source of life and energy, so does art to the human soul.
For more information about becoming an AFFMA member, volunteer, or filmmaker please visit www.AFFMA.org or call 323-663-1882.
To become a festival sponsor or to purchase tickets to the Opening Night Premiere screening of “Venezzia” and Closing Night Awards Gala at the historic Egyptian Theatre, please visit www.AFFMA.org or call 323-663-1882. Tickets to the Closing Night Awards Gala, which includes cocktails and a dinner reception, may be purchased for $75. 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. Tickets may also be purchased at the Egyptian Theatre box office for $50 on premiere night. Opening Night Premiere and Gala tickets are also available through the purchase of a VIP 3-day All-Access Pass at the special rate of $150.