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ARMENIAN FILM: Examining one nation´s identity

Seven films by directors from Armenia and its diaspora will be screened as part of the “Armenian Film Selection,” taking place Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 19 at two Tokyo venues, Athenee Francais Cultural Center in Chiyoda Ward and Uplink Factory in Shibuya. Four films — Harutyun Khachatryan’s “Return to the Promised Land” and “Documentarist,” “Mariam” by Edgar Baghdasaryan and “Lord have Mercy” by Vigen Chaldranyan — will screen with English subtitles. Atom Egoyan’s “Calendar” is an English-language film.

Arsinee Khanjian in “Calendar,” an Atom Egoyan-directed film showing as part of “Armenian Film Selection” (C) EGO FILM ARTS

The son of Armenian refugees, Cairo-born, Canada-raised Egoyan shot some of 1993’s “Calendar” (Aug. 11, 7 p.m., Aug. 12, 7 p.m., Aug. 19, 2:30 p.m) in Armenia, and examines the question of Armenian identity through a man hired to photograph churches for a calendar. Egoyan would go on to gain acclaim for 2002’s “Ararat.”

Sergei Parajanov’s experimental 1968 film “Color of Pomegranates” (Aug. 12, 1: 40 p.m., Armenian with Japanese subtitles only), is a unique work which has little dialogue and was filmed mostly using stationary cameras.

Born in 1924 in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Armenian parents, Parajanov lived an eventful life that included spells in gulags in the 1970s on charges of “homosexuality and illegal trafficking of religious icons” that were widely accepted as being trumped up by the Soviet authorities. Made at a time when most films coming out of the USSR were state propaganda, the dreamy “Color of Pomegranates” vividly explores the art and poetry of Armenia by looking at the life of a troubadour named Sayat Nova, played by Sofiko Chiareli, who also took on five other roles — male and female — in the film.

In addition to the screenings, Mitsuyoshi Numano, a professor at the University of Tokyo, will discuss Armenian literature and film after the screening of “Documentarist” (3:30 p.m., Aug. 12).

Tickets per screening are 1,000 yen at the door (800 yen in advance from Athenee Francais Cultural Center, near Ochanomizu Station on the JR Sobu Line and Marunouchi Subway Line, and Uplink Factory, a 10-minute walk from JR Shibuya Station).

For the complete schedule, visit www.fiberbit.net/user/yoshida_m/

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