Sorry my posts have been so absent lately! Much going on.
The Arpa Film Festival was fantastic. Thank you to Alex Kalognomos and Sylvia Minassian for a wonderful experience. Probably the high point for me was to have “Hove” play before the great film “Sonbahar” (Autumn), by the great Hamshen filmmaker, Ozcan Alper. I had an opportunity to meet some very cool Armenian filmmakers including Vem, who has directed a bunch of major music videos as well as film and has got an amazing graphic novel out now called “Hollyvood”, check it out at this link: http://www.hollyvoodsite.com. This graphic novel is the starting point for a film of the same story. Look for it at the multiplexes in the future. Very interesting and bright filmmaker.
It was wonderful that it was held at one of the classic Hollywood movie theatres, The Egyptian. Anytime an event like this is connected with the golden and for me, haunted, past of the great age of Hollywood it is thrilling.
I also got to talk with Marco Khan, the great Armenian (!) character actor that you have seen many times – even if you don’t know it, Pirates of the Caribbean, 2012, Iron Man to name a few. What an imposing physical presence and the guy could not be kinder or gentler.
Continue to work on my bigger, feature length Armenian Genocide project. It is really helpful to bounce some of my plans off of other filmmakers in the Armenian community.
More to come on my visit to the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA.
I am really looking forward to this screening of “Hove”. Our film will open for the beautiful “Sonbahar” (Autumn) by Hamshensi filmmaker Ozcan Alper. This is one of the most exciting aspects of the film festival world is seeing what your film will be paired with. We have been very lucky (and honored) to have been paired with some amazing feature-length pieces at the various festivals.
If you are in the Southern California area please come to the screening and say Hi. Here is the link to the festival website and tix for our
If you are anywhere near Watertown, MA please come to this screening on Nov. 7 at 2pm. ALMA (Armenian Library and Museum of America) was very helpful in initially tracking down the rights to the photos used in “Hove” and I am excited to have a screening at this great museum.
Here is a link for more information on their website: http://www.almainc.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=176
More details to come.
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.
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!
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”)
None … Not a single person at the table.
I was sitting with a group of young festival goers, in a Cambridge diner, after the screening of “Hove.” We were discussing the film when it became apparent that none of them knew anything about the Armenian Genocide prior to that night’s screening. We had at the table – graduates of Ivy league schools, a Fulbright scholar and a Harvard graduate student.
“How is this possible?” I ask myself. I have two conflicting sensations: sadness and encouragement. Sadness at the fact that our educational institutions still place such little (if any) emphasis on this history. And encouragement that the film is being shown and putting the Genocide in front of people who otherwise might never hear anything of it.
I was also encouraged by the fact that they all mentioned that the photos really made an impact. They said the photos gave them a sense of the depth of the tragedy/crime. Comments like “the photos looked just like the Holocaust” told me they were making the kind of lasting impression that I had hoped for.
There also was a lot of interest and from one person, skepticism, about the connection between the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. I cannot tell you how many people have been disturbed, fascinated and surprised to learn of the large German military presence in Turkey during World War I. All those German soldiers watching (and learning) as the Ottoman Turks methodically wipe out the Armenians. Almost all Armenians know the quote from Hitler, explaining to his generals the efficacy of his proposed “Final Solution”, “after all who remembers the massacre of the Armenians?” But no one at the table had ever heard of this connection until the screening.
I am so grateful that a great organization like Facing History and Ourselves is making such efforts to teach about the Armenian Genocide in the classroom. I am excited for “Hove” to be a part of that effort. I look forward to my son, now five years old, being able to sit around a table with his classmates in college and it not even occur to him that he might need to explain or defend his history because they are already aware.
Obviously there is a lot of work to be done to reach a moment such as that. My efforts will be directed towards a feature length story from the Genocide that could reach millions. I invite anyone who is interested and would like to help in this cause to reach out to me via email (click on “contact” on the banner at top or bottom). Suggestions on fund-raising, potential investors and any other ideas you might have are welcome. “Hove” was the first small step. I look forward to taking leaps and bounds with all of you toward this important goal.
“Hove” has been invited to be a part of the Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto, September 25-27. http://www.pomegranatefilmfestival.com “Hove” will screen at 1pm on Sunday with “The Land of our Grandparents”. A moving documentary about a road-trip through Eastern Turkey by filmmaker Alex Goekjian in search of clues regarding his late grandfather.
I am very excited to be a part of this festival. At the other film festivals I have worked very hard to get the word out to the Armenian community about the film with mixed success. I am very hopeful that with the Pomegranate film festival, the upcoming Arpa Film Festival in Los Angeles and the screening in Watertown, MA at the Armenian Library and Museum (ALMA) that I will get to share the film with the Armenian community in a much more comprehensive way.
Atom Egoyan will be at the festival to present a film as well. I’ve met Atom a couple of times and am a great admirer of his work.
More updates to come!
Just found out we have been invited to the Boston Film Festival!
There are not a lot of short films invited and among the select few is “Hove”. I am thrilled to be in the same company with some very impressive films, including “Kavi” which one the student Academy Award last year.
There is a sizable Armenian community in Boston and hopefully we can get them out to our screening.
The screening is September 21 at 5pm at the Kendall Landmark Theatres, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA. (617) 499-1996
Hope I will see some of you there.
The Montreal World Film Festival was amazing. I had never been to Montreal and it is truly a beautiful city. The city is really involved in the film festival in a way I had not experienced before. Many of the streets had banners hanging from them announcing to the city that the festival was happening.
All three screenings of “Hove (The Wind)” were sold out!
I felt very fortunate to have “Hove” paired with an amazing feature film, “Devil’s Town”.
Director Vladimir Paskaljevic paints a funny, shocking, passionate and heartbreaking portrait of many intertwined lives in current day Serbia. It was interesting because, although the films were very different in many ways, I felt they had common ground in that they both asked the question – Is it possible to step outside your cultural history (in both Serbia and Armenia’s case – violent and tragic) and just be an individual without being pulled down by the weight of this history? The answer to that will have to come from each audience and each individual.
Montreal has this amazing bike rental system called “BiXi” and you join and then check out a bike anytime you want from hundreds of bike stations around the city and then check them back in at another station near your destination.
I really enjoyed using them and 24 hours of use of the system whenever I wanted cost around $6!
I had the chance to sit down and talk with a number of filmmakers from Montreal and Toronto and exchange ideas. It was a fantastic environment and all of us were made to feel very welcome by the festival.
I also had the chance to see a film that was adapted from a play by Austin Pendleton. Austin was at the festival to see this film for the first time. “Blind Company” is an amazing story of an embattled uncle and nephew and their struggle to deal with a twisted and long-buried family history. Austin and I were headed back to New York on the same flight and had a great time talking about theatre, film and mutual friends, future projects etc. I told Austin that his amazing career mix of playwriting, acting and directing was a model for me in how to live a life in the arts. He is such a kind, eloquent and talented person. Here is Austin pictured with Madeline Kahn in “What’s up, Doc?” (one of my favorite movies as a kid). He told me he did four films with Madeline Kahn!
More to come as I remember and find a moment!
Just got the word from the programmers in Montreal. They have three great screening times for “Hove (The Wind)”:
Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7:20pm
Sunday, Aug. 30 at 12:30 pm
Monday, Aug. 31 at 3pm
All screenings will be in Theatre 12 at the Quartier Latin Cinema Complex. More details to follow as I get them. The website is:
The fact that we have three screenings just shows how exceptional and world-class this festival really is. From the beginning of this process they have been incredible. They create the screening schedule with the filmmakers in mind. They ask when you can come to Montreal and then put your film up during that time if they can. I have been made to feel so welcome. I feel very lucky to be a part of this festival – there are really only a handful of American films that have been invited.
I really am looking forward to being there and getting to see some amazing cinema from around the world. Will tell you all about it in a couple of weeks!
Just came back from the first few days of the LA Int’l Short Film Festival. The screening was great. We were paired with some wonderful films including a beautiful film called “The First Day of Peace”. Shot in Bosnia and written and directed by Mirco Rucnov it is the story of a peasant farmer who decides he cannot wait any longer and will go back to his land and plow it – now that the first day of peace has been declared. Powerful, simple and yet it carries quite a blow. Great performances from people from the director’s village who had never acted before.
Many good things have already come out of the festival. A major studio requested a screener of “Hove”. Another producer asked to look at a feature length script since they could not attend. I was also thrilled to have Olympia’s brother, Apollo, attend. He was very complimentary about the film and said that he thought Olympia must have felt very comfortable working with me as she seemed very “open and relaxed” in the role. A truly great compliment.
Another exciting development is that an Oscar-qualifying festival (unnamed for the moment) contacted me and basically said the film was in! This was based on seeing the film at Palm Springs. Can’t tell you who until they finalize their announcements and press release etc. I had heard this happens but it was a real thrill to know that a programmer from another festival was watching and appreciated the film enough to give it the advance invite treatment!
I was also thrilled to have Booth Colman attend the LA screening. He is an incredible actor with an amazing biography. I was lucky enough to do a couple of plays with him years ago. This great man has worked with or known many of the greatest actors in the twentieth century while working as an actor in Hollywood. One of his best friends was Stan Laurel, Arthur Marx is a good friend (son of Groucho) and he worked with Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Kirk Douglas, Howard Hawks, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Sally Field and the list goes on and on. He also played Dr. Zaius in the Planet of the Apes TV series! Given his stellar history in the film industry – it meant a lot to have him there. He was very complimentary about the film and his only frustration was that he wanted more of the story. He also said with classic Booth Colman humor that “Jack Warner oughta screen this picture.”
Booth Colman as Dr. Zaius.
It was an amazing trip. I also had the chance to talk briefly with Courtney Cox and Demi Moore. Both were charming and have made wonderful short films. If you get the chance to see either Demi Moore’s “Streak” or Courtney Cox’s “The Monday Before Thanksgiving” see them. They are funny, well-told and beautifully acted.