Hove (The Wind)

Pomegranate Film Festival visit – Toronto – Sept. 25-27

Posted in Uncategorized by hovethewind on October 6, 2009

IMG_7548

The Pomegranate Film Festival was superb. The people running this festival (Thank you, Sevag and Anoush!) really reminded me of my wife’s Armenian community in Detroit. They really made it feel very welcoming, like family.

I was really fascinated by the range of subject and type of films that I saw. Armenian connections with all of them but not necessarily the obvious ones. There were films from France and Russia for instance that are made by Armenian filmmakers but that is where the cultural connection ends. These films are mainstream romantic comedies and thrillers in many cases.

There was one film “Prince of Broadway” – where the connection to Pomegranate is that one of the leads is Armenian. Karren Karagulian gives a very true and powerful performance in this cinema verite film that is a clear descendant of films such as “The Bicycle Thief” – a number of audience members thought it was a documentary just to give you an idea of the truthfulness of the acting.

I saw an amazing film from Russia called “The Ghost” directed by Karen Oganesyan (a man) and produced by Anna Melikyan (also an amazing director in her own right – I am looking forward to seeing her film “Mermaid” sometime soon. It was at Berlin and Sundance and was Russia’s nomination for 2008 Foreign Film Oscar) “The Ghost” is a psychological action/thriller film about a crime novelist who finally gets connected to the real thing, a professional hit man, and how the writer gets pulled into the real world that he has been pretending to know about in his novels.

I also saw films by Armenians about Armenian subjects. I saw a short film called “The Shower” (from Armenia) by Diana Kardumyan. It is about three minutes long and I will be thinking about it for the rest of my life. I really don’t want to say more. Hopefully you will get a chance to see it at another festival.

“Hove” was paired with an incredible documentary called “The Land of our Grandparents” in which the filmmaker, Alex Goekjian, goes to Turkey with a Kurdish/Turkish historian and together they try to track down Alex’s grandfather’s village. A really powerful journey with both men taking real risk to find the truth; in a country where so much history has been hidden, buried or purposefully forgotten. It is truly haunting.

I also had a chance to talk with two journalists who had worked with Hrant Dink at Agos, the Armenian newspaper in Turkey. It was very moving to hear them speak of him. Kumru Bilici told me that he was beloved by everyone. Turkish and Armenian alike. Merchants in the street, everyone knew him, he was a man of the people. He stood up for Armenians and Genocide recognition but he also stood up for anyone who was being denied a voice. She explained to me that this is why there were 250,000 people in the streets for his funeral. I was at a loss for words, hearing about his courage was humbling, but I was glad to learn more from people who really knew him.

Atom Egoyan brought an excerpt from a work-in-progress called “The Illuminator”. This is a piece he created with students as part of a film workshop at the Golden Apricot Festival in Yerevan. Really fascinating, as only Egoyan, could do. An intricate moral dilemna that slowly unfolds and by the end really leaves you questioning who is in the right, if anyone. He may continue to work on it as a longer piece at the next Golden Apricot. I got a chance to talk with him. We had spoken previously at the Tribeca Film Festival and I had given him a copy of “Hove” then. I assumed he had not seen it, but to my suprise, when we talked at Pomegranate he was very complimentary towards “Hove”. I was thrilled. I have tremendous respect for his work. It means a lot that he took the time to watch it.

IMG_7545

l. to r. Alex Webb, Atom Egoyan, Sevag Yeghoyan (one of the organizers of Pomegranate)

Arsinee Khanjian introduced “Autumn” a beautiful film by Hamshen filmmaker, Ozcan Alper. For those of you who don’t know, Hamshen, is a culture within Turkey whose roots are Armenian and who have both Christian and Muslim communities. Only recently has the Hamshen community discovered their Armenian roots and there is an amazing re-connection and awakening going on with this community and the more mainstream Armenian community.

“Hove” will next be playing at the Arpa Film Festival in Los Angeles and so will “Autumn.” I will update everyone with screening times etc. shortly. More to come!

IMG_7544

l. to r. Stephane Kazandjian (French-Armenian Director of “Modern Romance”), Alex Webb (Director of “Hove (The Wind)”, Karren Karagulian (Lead Actor in award-winning film “Prince of Broadway”)

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: