Moving Mountains: Vancouver Cinematheque to host Armenian Cinema Days

On June 15-22, 2023, the Vancouver Cinematheque will host Armenian Cinema Days dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Armenian cinema. The program includes the films of Hamo Beknazaryan, Yuri Yerznkyan, Frunze Dovlatyan, Henrik Malyan, Sergey Parajanov, Bagrat Hovhannisyan, Atom Egoyan and Maria Sahakyan. The project is implemented with the support of the National Film Center of Armenia and the Armenian Cultural Society of British Columbia.

April 16, 2023, marked the centenary of the Armenian film industry, originally established in the Soviet Republic of Armenia, on the basis of one nationalized movie theatre and a miniscule budget of 60 rubles. Less than two years later, the first Armenian film production, the documentary feature Soviet Armenia, was released across the USSR, setting course for one of the most multifaceted and complex cinematic legacies in the Near East.

Though modest in scale, the output of the Armenian film industry boasts a number of internationally recognized works whose impact and importance extends far beyond the confines of Armenian culture. Aside from globally revered masterpieces by the likes of Sergei Parajanov and Artavazd Peleshyan, Armenian films also served as an important early platform for some of the first realistic, anti-colonial depictions of Middle Eastern nations.

Comprising eight feature-length films and two shorts, ​“Moving Mountains” is the first Canadian retrospective survey of Armenian cinema’s volatile trajectory from the ideologically oriented silent period to the post-Soviet era of creative diversity and experimentation. Featuring works by major figureheads such as Hamo Beknazaryan, Sergei Parajanov, Frunze Dovlatyan, and Henrik Malyan, the program also indicates the dramatic shifts in local cinematic traditions, which have been radically transformed and expanded through the active participation of women and diasporan filmmakers since the early 1990s.

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