Violence and Passion

in 6th Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival

by Jean-Max Méjean

Globalization concerns not only uniformity of money and goods all over the world, but also imposes more and more this violence of fashion on the cinema. By the way, you should not forget that liberalism doesn’t value cinema as an art, but as a powerful marketing product. I don’t say that violence isn’t one of the perennial human attributes: wars and conflicts, and also quarrels and betrayals, are regrettably but currently present in the story of mankind. Anyway a big part of the so-called commercial cinema uses that issue in order to raise its business, especially in the case of many video games. The Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival doesn’t avoid this wave. In my opinion, a few films, in competition, or not, are marked by scenes of violence, sometimes with little or no meaning. The world seems to be presented as a huge territory of conflicts because this is what production companies choose to put in such kind of films in order to satisfy some popular taste. They also think that is a good option to sell the same films to the broadcasting companies.  

For instance, what a strange idea to open this splendid Armenian Film Festival with the film Inside Ring (Le premier cercle) by Laurent Tuel, the story of a violent group of gangsters coming from the Armenian community in France, only because his producer, Alain Terzian, is a French-Armenian? Many others films also depict the violent facts, for instance: fights between mafia gangs (Black Dogs Barking by Mehmet Bahadir), an efficient hitman and blood splats (Ghost by Karen Hovhannisyan), dead people piled up like in an Atrid tragedy (Hesitation by Karim Masihi), and children who play with weapons in an old tank (Opium War by Siddiq Barmak), etc.

When it is not clearly evident, the violent pattern is psychological: the tragic mishaps involving a child looking for his father (The Other Bank by George Ovashvili), or the odyssey of a young man who got partial amnesia after an accident (The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner by Stephan Komandarev).

Violence is also a part of life in the case of women. When they are not veiled, they seem to be affected by hysteria, or manipulated by macho men, or even ridiculed as in a small film that reproduces Lysistrata’s play by telling the story of an unusual strike: the women stop to make love until the men are not able to solve the water shortage in the village (Absurdistan by Veit Helmer). Finally I must mention the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos Republic where the women and even the female animals are banned (Mount Athos, The Republic of the Monks by Eddy Vicken), a real Absurdistan. 

It would be better if the cinema could also help in making a better world by reducing the violence and helping the women in their liberation. The cinema must be an art, and, perhaps, it would be better, for the filmmakers, not to focus on the cynicism of our modern world.

Anyway, a famous Armenian director had the genial idea to tell the pain of the world by showing the countryside through the expressive eyes of a very charming buffalo (Border by Harutyan Khachatryan). And, more than that, that director is also the Golden Apricot Festival General Director who put in the program a magical and unforgettable film: The Color of Pomegranates (Sayat Nova) by Sergei Parajanov. This film lets us forget all the miseries in this huge world and feed both our mind and our soul. Not only for this, thank you Mr. Harutyan Khachatryan.

Edited by Steven Yates