4th Yerevan Golden Apricot - International Film Festival
Armenia, July 9 - July 19 2007
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s film The Lark Farm (La masseria delle allodole, premiered in Berlin 2007) opened the 4th edition of the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival. It’s the right place for a film about the genocide of Armenians committed, during WWI, by Turkey (something not officially admitted there even today). The history is present in Yerevan, Armenia. From the city, you can see Turkey and mount Ararat (now on Turkish ground), but the border is closed. There is no diplomatic relations between the two neighbor countries. This did, however, not prevent the festival organizers from inviting recent Turkish films (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Reha Erdem) — where politics has given up, arts may open up at least a dialogue.
Also, another film, the Armenian documentary A Story of People in War and Peace, talked about a dark chapter of the country’s history: about the military conflict, beginning in the 90s and after the breakdown of the Soviet system, between Armenia and Azerbaijan around the autonomous region of Karabagh. To run a festival in the Caucasus region seems to unavoidably confront with politics, even if the festival heads (Harutyun Khachatryan and Susanna Harutyunyan), in a well thought-out and modest way, limit their ambitions to a film festival and not to a political demonstration.
Yerevan has only two cinema theaters. This makes more sense, therefore, to show the local public a good selection of recent world cinema in its international competition including films from Alexander Sokurov, Christian Petzold, Emanuele Crialese, Ulrich Seidl, Bruno Dumont, among others; Jafar Panahi (another neighbor, from Iran) presented his latest film Offside. Retrospectives were dedicated to Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong and French director Leos Carax. An Armenian Panorama informed of the recent production of the country — mostly short and middle-length films, mainly documentaries — while the financing and production of feature-length fiction films seems still to face enormous difficulties, also because of an obvious lack of interest of the political authorities in cinema. However, the Golden Apricot Festival can help and does help to give cinema, including the national one, a better standing in the country. (k.e.)
Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival: www.gaiff.am