NEW YORK, N.Y.—Eight Armenian films will be screened as part of the third edition of the SR Socially Relevant Film Festival, a ground-breaking non-profit film festival that showcases socially relevant films with human interest stories. The festival opens on March 14 with a panel on “Adapting the Novel to the Screen” with such prolific panelists as Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, and widely published French novelist Marc Levy. The films screen from March 15-19 at The Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea and the closing night Awards Ceremony takes place at the Tenri Japanese Center on March 20.
Selected films will focus on the current topics of immigration, female empowerment, human exploitation, gender politics, disability, and more; and will feature distinguished personalities including Erin Brockovich, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Marc Duret, and others.
Two narrative features and six shorts revolving around Armenian themes will have a special presence in this year’s film festival, including the International Premiere of “100 Years Later” (directed by John Lubbock) which follows historian Ara Sarafian’s journey through Anatolia as facts of the 1915 Armenian Genocide are uncovered and dialogue is established with local Kurds and Turks.
The second feature, “Who Killed the Armenians?” (directed by Mohamed Hanafy Nasr), will have its World Premiere at the festival and is the first Arabic documentary on the Armenian Genocide, filmed in Egypt, Armenia, and Lebanon. The film reveals rare documents, footage and interviews related to the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
The short film, “Eclipse,” (directed by Ara Yernjakyan) which will have its U.S. premiere, revolves around the children who suffered and the families that were destroyed during the Armenian Genocide.
“The film is a reminder of the fact that children are the most vulnerable sector of the society during any war and conflict,” said Ara Yernjakyan in an interview with Lilit Movsisyan. “It is children that suffer from the mistakes of the adults in the first place.”
Yernjakyan said he wanted to focus on the social issue of children in the film, which screened at the Golden Apricot Festival in Armenia, with a desire to appeal to both Armenian and non-Armenian audiences.
“I am sure that everyone can be part of my audience, especially those who are not indifferent to the fate of children,” he said.
“Girl on the Moon,” (directed by Aren Malakyan), filmed in Armenia, focuses on the first steps of disabled people and how they try to change the course of their lives through dance.
In an interview with Lilit Movsisyan, Malakyan said it was necessary to show through the language of cinematography the process of staging a dance performance.
“We long studied the psychology of children, interacted closely with them, and became friends, so that they could feel at ease in front of the camera,” said Malakyan. “My goal was not to make people pity them through the film, but rather awake more a powerful sense in people, so that the latter look at them and dream about being as strong as those disabled people.”
The film received the jury’s special prize for the first time in Almaty (the largest city in Kazakhstan) and received accolades at the VEB Apricot festival. Malakyan also received a youth award from President Serge Sarkisian for the film.
“The SR Socially Relevant Film Festival is exciting for me because it has a social orientation,” said Malakyan. “The film is intended for people regardless of their nationality. In all nations, there are children with such problems who deserve attention and respect.”
“How to Cross from Jiliz to Jiliz,” directed by Marineh Kocharyan and Sona Kocharyan, is about a young girl who dreams of being with her grandmother and relatives who live on the other side of the border, only a few meters away. The film will have its New York premiere.
The film was inspired by Kocharyan’s studies at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, when she prepared a report about the Jiliza village and the border, and decided it would be an important subject material for a documentary. The film, which has already participated in several festivals, won the jury’s special prize at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the CinéDoc Tbilisi international documentary film festival and winning of the chief prize of the “Young Documentarians” short film competition, organized by the US Embassy and Tumo Center for Creative Technologies.
“Our film is created for an audience of every type and taste,” said Kocharyan in an interview with Movsisyan. “Many different audiences have viewed the film and became interested in the issue.”
“Now I Know,” directed by Anna Bayatyan from Armenia, will have its International Premiere, focusing on the theme of hope. In an interview with Movsisyan, Bayatyan said the film presents a disagreement between an individual and society as spiritual pressure is placed on one person who does not live according to everyone else’s standards.
“The motto of the SR-Socially Relevant Film Festival New York matches the message of the film,” said Bayatyan. “It’s a great opportunity and best chance to communicate with other directors and producers.”
“Shattered,” directed by David Hovan, focuses on memories of war and chaos and post-traumatic stress disorder. It will have its New York Premiere.
“Where is the Euphrates, Son?” Directed by Rouben Pashinyan, filmed in Armenia, the film tells the story of an Armenian grandfather who arrives in Armenia as a tourist and tries to find the Euphrates River. It will have its New York premiere at the festival.
Although centering his film around the Armenian Genocide, filmmaker Ruben Pashinyan said, “My Son, Where is the Euphrates?” focuses on a brighter future and an optimistic note of awareness.
“The film is not a film production, but a public outcry which we couldn’t but raise especially on the 100th anniversary of the Genocide,” said Pashinyan of the film.
The full line-up and program of this year’s SR Socially Relevant Film Festival was announced at its Press Day, hosted at Bocca East in Manhattan, on Feb. 2.
Founded by award-winning actor, filmmaker and curator Nora Armani, SR aims to satisfy a market need concentrating on everyday human stories as an alternative to the proliferation of gratuitous violence in film making.
In its first two years of the festival’s founding, it has served as a platform for 108 films from 33 countries, offered four industry panels and presented more than 12 awards to talented filmmakers from all over the world. SR believes that positive social change is possible through the powerful medium of cinema.
To stay updated on the entire slate of movies, dates, and times, or to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.ratedsrfilms.org.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-Atlantic