Moving Mountains: The Centenary of Armenian Cinema
Screening Dates
  • June 15, 2023 7:00
New Restoration

Hamo Beknazaryan is a figurehead of Armenian cinema and the author of the maiden Armenian fiction film, Namus (1926). Dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Armenia’s Sovietization, Land of Nairi, Beknazaryan’s first feature documentary, is a vast historical panorama of Armenia’s transition from a Russian colony to a Soviet Republic. Admitting to total indifference towards the documentary format, Beknazaryan approached his subject like a dramatic tale in which the central character is the country itself rendered through a poetic, and, at times, surreal lens. Composed entirely of archival footage, appropriated and staged scenes, this meta-narrative results in graphically powerful, poster-like images that form a propagandistic pamphlet about the evils of capitalism and the triumph” of Stalin’s collectivization policies. For Beknazaryan, this ideological axis served as an excuse to create an entirely modern cinematic language that strives toward the visceral power of music. Widely screened in diasporic Armenian communities in the 1930s, Land of Nairi was forgotten soon after. This new restoration features a musical score by Vahagn Hayrapetyan commissioned by the Armenian Cultural Association of British Columbia.

Silent. Russian intertitles with English subtitles

followed by

White Town
Սպիտակ քաղաք
USSR 1988
Harutyun Khachatryan
36 min. DCP

Documentary has been a stronghold of Armenian cinema, attaining global influence through the work of its undisputed maverick, Artavazd Peleshian. During the 1980s, a number of new filmmakers started to apply Peleshian’s techniques of associative visual montage to more politically inclined aims. Harutyun Khachatryan was among this group of renegades who made a splash on the international scene with Kond (1987), his provocative exposé” of Yerevan’s hidden shanty-town. He followed this with the more subtle, albeit no less radical, White Town, a largely wordless and aloof study of the director’s birthplace, the city of Akhalkalaki in the south of Georgia. Recalling Frederick Wiseman’s observational methodology, the documentary operates like an anthropological survey of the customs, rituals, and routines of this ancient town’s predominantly Armenian population.

In Armenian with English subtitles