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armenianow: Armenian film wins recognition in international festival

By Suren Deheryan

ArmeniaNow reporter

“Documentarian”, a film by Armenian director Harutyun Khachatryan won second place in the Documentary category of the 38th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival held in Czech Republic July 4-12.

The director met the Armenian press last week after returning from the Czech Republic.

Using a documentary filmmaker as its hero, “Documentarian” chronicles Armenia’s transition in the 1990s. At first it seems as though the movie were a collection of random and unrelated episodes. But as the film develops, viewers see how the overall story unfolds through vignettes that include newborns, orphans, stray dogs, prisoners, who don’t despair even in their hardest circumstance.

“I thought leading cinematographers and the European audience wouldn’t like our movie shot on simple and usual, common and bad film,” Khachatryan says. “However, I was very glad when they were approaching me saying that the movie reflects their life as well. That is to say it is panhuman.”

Khachatryan started filming the movie in 1995, and completed it last January. “Documentarian” is his sixth documentary and he is also the director of four feature films. His work has received five international awards. The film was written by Mikayel Stamboltsyan and Valery Gasparyan. Vahan Ter-Hakobyan is the cinematographer.

Consistent with the style of his other movies, Khachatryan’s latest work follows a style that straddles the line between feature films and documentaries. “Documentarian” was shot for a budget of about $80,000 (about 46.5 million drams). The low budget, its creators say, didn’t allow for the best technical quality, making it even more rewarding that it should earn praise among films of much larger budgets.

Director Harutyun Khachatryan and crew on location in Armenia.
Earlier this year, “Documentarian” was named one of the five best films during the Nika Film Festival in Russia.

The Czech festival has been in existence for more than 55 years (with some interruptions), and is registered by the International Association of Film Producers as a class “A” festival. According to Khachatryan, the special jury award was a surprise for Armenian participants.

The director said it was a great honor to compete at this festival with such directors as Austrian Ulrich Seidl, whose “Jesus, You Know” won the top prize for the Best Documentary Film.

Following the success of “Documentarian”, Khachatryan has received invitations to new film festivals in Canada, Korea, Israel and the United States.

He is currently working on a new project “Ashugh Jivany”. Production of the film began last year at Hayfilm studio; it is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Khachatryan was not Armenia’s only representative at the Czech festival. Susanna Harutyunyan of Yerevan is president of the professional independent jury of the feature genre of the International Federation of Film Critics, which awarded its prize to a Korean film.

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