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.


Festival Recap & Highlights

10 11 2009

L to R: Director Haik Gazarian, Director Eric Nazarian, AFFMA-founder Sylvia Minassian, CAA-agent Ara Keshishian

The 12th Annual Arpa International Film Festival came to a close on Sunday, October 25 after 3 days of films, receptions, and a star-studded closing night awards ceremony at the renowned Egyptian Theatre.

More than 20 nations including Armenia, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil, France, Peru, Canada, Mexico, Malawi, Israel, Spain, China, Bhutan, India, and Iran were represented among the feature films, shorts, documentaries, music videos and animations that screened during the festival.

Such filmmakers as Alex Webb (director of “Hove” starring Olympia Dukakis), Lucy Martens and Marjorie Wright (filmmakers of the 2009 Armin T. Wegner Award recipient “Voices from Inside: Israelis Speak”) and Ghazaros Kerjilian (the subject of Mehmet Binay’s “Talking Pictures,” a companion piece to “Whispering Memories”) flew in from around the world to attend this year’s festivities.

Opening Night Premiere – “Venezzia”

venezzia opening night arpa film festival 2009

On Friday, October 23 the festival premiered Haik Gazarian’s highly anticipated directorial debut,  “VENEZZIA,” a Venezuelan production starring two of Latin America’s top film and television stars, Alfonso Herrera and Ruddy Rodriguez. Gazarian, along with star Ruddy Rodriguez and screenwriter Valentina Rendon, were in attendance for the red carpet event attended by over 500 ardent fans and hosted by REELZChannel’s Jill Simonian. Also in attendance were several dozen cheering admirers of Alfonso Hererra who hoped to get a glimpse of the star.

Saturday Sold Out Screenings

chasing tchaikovsky

Saturday’s highlights included two sold old screenings. This year’s recipient of Arpa International Film Festival’s Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award, which is awarded annually to a motion picture that contributes to the fight for social conscience and human rights, was “Voices from Inside: Israelis Speak.” “This feature length documentary film is based on the stories of 16 Jewish Israeli voices of conscience, each representing a different facet of the peace movement inside Israel,” says Zaven Khatchaturian, Arpa International Film Festival Curator, who invited the filmmakers, producer/director Lucy Martens and producer Marjorie Wright, to the festival. The screening attracted a capacity audience and was followed by a discussion with the filmmakers.

Saturday’s day long screenings culminated with the premiere of “Chasing Tchaikovsky,” a laugh out loud comedy about marriage and moviemaking directed by Greg Lalazarian and starring a culturally diverse cast headed by veteran actress Ann Magnuson. Art Aroustamian, Boyd Banks, and Josie Davis also star. The screening was attended by over 500 enthusiastic guests, and included a red carpet pre-reception party for the cast and crew.

Arpa Awards Gala And Reception Hosted By Hollyscoop

hollyscoop hosting

Awards were handed out at a star-studded closing night ceremony on Sunday, October 25.

The illustrious Hollyscoop Girls – Diana Madison, Nora Gasparian and Ani Esmailian served as this year’s Closing Night Awards Gala emcees. Hollyscoop host a new weekly half-hour entertainment and pop-culture television program that airs at midnight on the CW, KTLA 5 in Los Angeles.

The evenings other highlights included a serenade by Venezuelan-born musician Ernesto Ferro, who performed selections from the soundtrack of “VENEZZIA” dedicated to the film’s director, Venezuelan-Armenian Haik Gazarian; and a congratulatory video message to the festival’s guests from socialite Kim Kardashian.

Celebrity attendees included actress Ann Magnuson (“Chasing Tchaikovsky”); CAA agents Ara Keshishian and Stuart Manashil; and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Stuart Sender.  Award presenters included Maria Armoudian (KPFK 90.7 FM on-air host); actor Marco Khan (“Iron Man,” “10,000 B.C.”); award-winning actress and human rights activist Mary Apick; award-winning filmmaker Eric Nazarian (“The Blue Hour”); voice-over actress Eliza Jane Schneider (Comedy Central’s “South Park” and MTV’s “Popzilla”); and screenwriter Peter Briggs (“Hellboy”).

The awards ceremony culminated with an outdoor courtyard reception, where guests celebrated the films and filmmakers of this year’s festival under the stars.

Sunday Afternoon Program

25 10 2009

The international films continue on Sunday with a series of powerful documentaries in the ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM at 11:45 featuring:

Battle for the Xingu a short documentary from Brazil, about The Xingu, a tributary of the Amazon which is home to over 10,000 indegenous people who rely on the river for survival.

The Enduring Call a short film about California’s Salton Sea, the vast inland lake that was once a paradise of biodiversity, is now an ecological netherworld where nature struggles to exist.

Every Tree tracks the work of the Armenia Tree Project (ATP), a non-profit program based in Watertown, MA and Yerevan, Armenia, which conducts vitally important environmental projects in Armenia’s impoverished and deforested zones.

Stuff.Inc. a short satire about a happy-go-lucky hillbilly that enjoys the wealth and thrills of his native wilderness, until the “Stuff Company,” the ultimate global corporation, moves in with all the trappings of consumerism and with the fierce intention of taking him away for indoctrination.

Voice of the Voiceless  a searing graphic short film from Armenia which documents the lives of farm animals from ill-fated birth to inevitable and agonizing death, “Voice of the Voiceless” pits the animal at the center of the story.

Water First a 2008 documentary about  Charles Banda, a humble, local Malawian fireman turned water activist. Through his story we see how water is a solution to many of the problems in his impoverished, sub-Saharan country.

And finally,  at 2:15pm, Arpa International Film Festival is proud to screen Nian Liu”s beautifully shot feature film LI TONG, about an 8-year old girl exploring the colorful streets and characters of modern Beijing…

Li Tong Poster Still 3


24 10 2009

It is officially ARPA FILM FESTIVAL weekend!

affma invite 2009 back

Join us for a spectacular weekend line up of 46 films, giving us a truly global worldview, from 23 countries…

Egyptian Theater

6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood CA

Day & Evening Screenings $11

Closing Night Awards Gala $75

Tickets available Online or at the Box Office

Full PROGRAM SCHEDULE listed here

Many thanks to all our filmmakers, supporters, Los Angeles film lovers, and Festival Committee without whom this weekend would not be possible.

2009 Nominated & Distinguished Films

19 10 2009

2008 winner

While all of the films featured in the 2009 Official Program are exceptional and speak to Arpa’s mission to present the works of independent filmmakers, particularly those exploring such issues as war, exile, genocide, and environmentalism, the Festival Jury has recently released the film nominees for the best in each category:

Best Documentary

Best Short Film

Best Animation Film

Best Feature, Screenplay & Director

In addition, three distinguished films will be honored with:

The Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award

The Arpa Foundation Award

The AT&T Award for Environmental Conservation & Stewardship

Congratulations to all our nominated and distinguished filmmakers!

Find the full list here.

Official Program & Tickets Now Available!

12 10 2009

The Festival Staff is very excited to present the 2009 Arpa Film Festival OFFICIAL PROGRAM!

View the whole line-up of this year’s incredible films from around the world, here!

Tickets and Festival Passes are available at http://www.itsmyseat.com/AFFMA.html

itsmyseat logo

Scroll through the chronologically ordered listing of the festival days and purchase tickets for individual film screenings, for the Opening or Closing Night Receptions, or an All-Access Pass!

Festival Highlights!

8 10 2009

Arpa International Film Festival is very excited that this year’s official selection of films includes films from over 20 countries including Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil , France , Peru , Canada , Malawi , Spain, China , India, Armenia, Iran and many more.

On Friday, October 23, the festival kicks off with the long anticipated North American premiere of Haik Gazarian’s “VENEZZIA.” Red carpet premier begins at 6:30 p.m., and the film at 8:00 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Other highlights include “Anjar: Flowers, Goats and Heroes,” a film about the history of the people of Musa Dagh by Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Noura Kevorkian; “Autumn of the Magician,” an homage to legendary Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra and Armenia’s official selection in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2010 Academy Awards; “Komitas Hairig,” which tells the story of the beloved Komitas Vardapet; “Husher,” a film which documents the testimony of Armenian Genocide survivors who settled in Italy; Turkish filmmakers Mehmet Binay & M.Caner Alper’s documentary “Whispering Memories,” tells the story of a community of Armenians in Turkey who stayed behind during the Genocide and silently converted to Islam; the Olympia Dukakis vehicle “Hove ,” a film about the powerful, unresolved legacy of Genocide, directed by Alex Webb; actor-writer-director Shant Hamassian’s Spaceman on Earth,” which debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Turkish filmmaker Ozcan Alper’s acclaimed “Sonbahar” (“Autumn”), the first feature length film ever to be shot in HomshetsmaChasing Tchaikovsky,” a laugh-out-loud comedy about marriage and moviemaking directed by Greg Lalazarian. Other films feature the work of such acclaimed figures as StingAcademy Award winner Jeremy Irons (“Power of the Powerless”) and “24” star Kiefer Sutherland (“Return to Mexico City”) which also includes interviews with President Barack Obama and Tom Brokaw.