YEREVAN (A.W.)—The 10th annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival of Yerevan—the Armenian Olympic games of cinema—kicked off on Sun., July 7 at the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of Armenia.
The opening night film, Francois Truffaut’s French New Wave Classic, “Shoot the Piano Player,” stars world famous chansonnier Charles Aznavour, who walked on the red carpet amid an avalanche of flashes from an army of photographers and journalists. Earlier that day, Aznavour, whose credits include 64 films and more than a thousand songs, was honored with a star in front of the Moscow Theater, right on the square that carries his name.
Prior to the opening ceremony, many of the 300 international guests, juries, participants, and filmmakers from various countries like Russia, Germany, U.S., France, Greece, Turkey, and Iran, took part in the traditional blessing of apricots at St. Zoravor Church.
In his opening remarks inside the Opera and Ballet Theater, the founder/director of the festival, Harutyun Khachatryan, said that the number of attendees at the festival’s first year was barely a thousand; filmmakers had to ask their friends and relatives to come and fill the theaters. Now, he continued, that number has reached 60,000 at the screenings, events, and shows during the festival, rivaling the number at other European festivals.
The honorary chairman of the festival, Canadian-Armenian film director Atom Egoyan, introduced Aznavour, calling him the most famous Armenian of our time and the most important living troubadour in the world. Egoyan said that Aznavour loves his people unconditionally, and has given Armenians more than they can imagine. He then gave him the highest award of the Golden Apricot Film Festival, the “Parajanov’s Thaler” Award.
The Youth Orchestra of Armenia kicked off the opening night with a beautifully orchestrated medley of music from motion picture soundtracks. The National Opera and Ballet Theater then offered the audience a performance from Aram Khachaturyan’s “Gayane” ballet. The “Hover” choir also took the stage, and offered the audience a spiritual leap with many Armenian classical songs.
More than 200 short, feature, and documentary films will be screened during the weeklong festival. The Golden Apricot has become a place where filmmakers come not just to flex their muscles but also to build bridges between different countries and cultures. The International Competition Feature Films include “11 Meetings with My Father” by Nikos Kornilios (Greece), “I Am Going to Change My Name” by Maria Sahakyan (Armenia), “A Long and Happy Life” by Boris Khlebnikov (Russia), “My Dog Killer” by Mira Fornay (Slovakia), “The Photograph” by Maciej Adamek (Poland), “Rendez-Vouz in Kiruna” by Anna Novion (France), “Heroin” by Rene Houwen (Netherlands), “The Fifth Season” by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (Belgium), “The Voice Of Silence” by Vigen Chaldranian (Armenia), “Araf–Somewhere in Between” by Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey), “Circles” by Srdan Golubovic (Serbia), “A Mere Life” by Sanghun Park (South Korea), and “Parviz” by Majid Barzegar (Iran).
Programs such as “Retrospective” and “Tribute,” which ran in previous years, will also be held this week, along with the “Cinema across Borders” and “Armenia-Turkey Cinema Platform.” Golden Apricot comes to an end next Saturday; the awards will be announced at the closing ceremony on July 12 at the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of Armenia.
For more information on the Golden Apricot Film Festival of Yerevan, visit www.gaiff.am.