“Freedom is not about doing what you want; it’s about not doing what you don’t want to do,” Director Vigen Chaldranian explains. This is how he introduced his newest film, “The Voice of Silence,” to an audience of nearly 100 people at the East Coast premiere last weekend, the Armenian Weekly informs.
Hamazkayin Boston and AGBU New England Chapters presented “The Voice of Silence” at the Armenian Cultural and Education Center (ACEC) in Watertown, Mass., following the West Coast premiere in Los Angeles a couple of weeks before.
Based on a successful play—also written by Chaldranian—the film deals with the identity struggles of an émigré, and his return to Armenia as a successful, assimilated Hollywood director. Chaldranian also stars as the lead, John, whom he considers to be his “alter ego” in real life.
After two decades away, John ventures to Armenia solely for the purpose of shooting a movie. In scouting a location for the film, he encounters an impassioned homeless woman named Jiji in a sand pit, where most of the film takes place in long, dialogue-laden scenes. Jiji’s eccentric way of living life and her tragic background begin to unravel a layer of John’s conscience that he had not questioned for years. As the film progresses, so does the struggle with his identity. What was once a closed period in the director’s life now leaves him at a crossroads with his cultural identity. He must make the decision of choosing between his head and his heart.
The film concludes with the viewer wondering if Jiji’s character was real. When asked, Chaldranian replied, “It’s a matter of conscience.” The co-lead actress, Mariam Davtyan, shines in the role as Jiji. This is her first feature-length film.
Chaldranian has made over 20 films in his 35-year career. The 2001 film, “Symphony of Silence,” was submitted to the 74th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.