Festival Highlights: Awards & Notable Films

10 11 2009

Arpa International Film Festival Awards

Of the 46 films screened at this year’s festival, the following received awards on closing night:

* Best Documentary: “Return to Mexico City” (USA / Mexico)

* Best Short Film: “The Tangent” (“La Tangente”) (France)

* Best Animated Film: “Dress Story” (Armenia)

* Best Screenplay: “Venezzia” (Venezuela)

* Best Director: “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”) (Turkey)

* Best Film: “Venezzia” (Venezuela)

* Arpa Breakthrough Award 2009: Greg Lalazarian for “Chasing Tchaikovsky” (USA)

* Arpa/AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation and Stewardship: presented to “Battle for the Xingu” (Brazil / USA

* Arpa Foundation Award: presented to Armenian Educational Foundation (AEF) for the film, “Because Education Matters” directed by Sevag Vrej; produced by Christina Hacopian

* Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award: presented to Lucy Martens and Marjorie Wright for the film “Voices from Inside: Israelis Speak” (Multi-national production)

The award for Best Short Film went to France’s “La Tangente”, while writer/director Suren Manukyan’s “Dress Story” from Armenia received the award for Best Animated Film.  Both films, 12-minutes and 7-minutes long respectively, explore the power of eroticism and need for desirability in human relationships.

Documentary Winners

In the documentary lineup, this year’s official selection included the work of such acclaimed figures as Sting in “Battle for the Xingu.” The film was honored with the inaugural Arpa/AT&T Award For Environmental Conservation & Stewardship. AT&T’s Troup Coronado presented the award on behalf of AT&T Real Yellow Pages, the festival’s Presenting Sponsor this year. [The current issue of the Glendale-Burbank Real Yellow Pages features Arpa International Film Festival on its cover, highlighting Arpa and AT&T’s shared mission to stage ecologically friendly events.] “Battle for the Xingu” tells the story of the Xingu, a tributary of the Amazon, which is home to 10,000 indigenous people who rely on the river for survival. The Brazilian government is proposing what would be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam, threatening to destroy the biodiversity of the region and depriving these people of their rights to a sustainable future.

The award for Best Documentary was given to “Return to Mexico City,” a documentary, narrated by “24” star Kiefer Sutherland, which includes interviews with President Barack Obama and Tom Brokaw.  The film tells the story of Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos who return to Mexico City forty years after stirring controversy by raising their fists in the air during their medal ceremony and, in the process, raising awareness of the struggle for civil rights in America and basic human rights throughout the world.

2009 Arpa Award Recipients

Armenian Educational Foundation (AEF) received this year’s Arpa Foundation Award. Over its 60 year history, AEF has been committed to youth and the pursuit of academic scholarship. The organization has built and supported the establishment of hundreds of day schools around the world. A short documentary film, produced by Christina Hacopian (“Gossip Girl,” “Bride Wars,” “Dirty Dancing”) and directed by Sevag Vrej (award-winning feature film director of “N-4” and Serj Tankian’s MVPA-nominated “Feed Us” music video) documenting AEF’s educational endeavors screened during the closing night awards ceremony. The award was presented by past Arpa Foundation Award recipient, actress and activist Mary Apick. The award was received by the filmmakers and board members of AEF, including Alec Baghdassarian.

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