Armenia Now: A Turkish director sitting on the five-member panel of judges for international feature films at the Golden Apricot International Film Festival in Yerevan that ended on July 18th believes the Armenian-Turkish border will open already this year.
Semih Kaplanoglu even gives the exact date, September 19. This is the day when a liturgy is planned at the 10th-century Armenian Surb Khach (Holy Cross) Church situated on a lake island in Turkey’s Van province. (There is a speculation that authorities in Ankara may temporary open the country’s border to allow Armenians planning to attend the related events to visit Turkey).
Kaplanoglu abstains from giving political estimations to the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement process, which was launched by the two countries’ political leaders in 2008, but came virtually to a standstill earlier this year after the sides had accused each other of imposing conditions for further progress. But the Turkish film director believes Golden Apricot and its so-called platform for Armenian and Turkish filmmakers is one of attempts at dialogue that contributes to finding solutions to problems.
Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan, who won wide acclaim for his 2001 film, Ararat, exploring the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, also hails the attempt of dialogue at the festival.
“This is a unique situation to our two countries, we have an opportunity to show to the world that we can create a bridge with each other, when anything is possible and the opening of this program is very shocking for me. Meeting with the Turks. It doesn’t happen in the Diaspora, but it happened here and that is great,” Egoyan, who is also the Festival’s president, told ArmeniaNow.
Egoyan’s 50th birthday anniversary is being marked as part of Golden Apricot this year. The renowned filmmaker says it is a dream come true for him.
“If you had told me 25 years ago that one day I would be celebrating my birthday in an independent country [Armenia], I would have said that you must be kidding me. So, this is wonderful for me that two of my dreams, the first about an Armenian film festival and the second about our national independence are already a reality. Where else could you find a better place for celebrating your birthday?” Egoyan told ArmeniaNow.
During the festival people were offered an opportunity to sample some examples of international cinema, attend master classes, listen to jazz performances, and along with all this Egoyan is also shooting a small film, documenting his meetings with Armenia and Diaspora-based fellow filmmakers during the festival events.
For two days Golden Apricot also hosted another well-known director, Krzysztof Zanussi from Warsaw, Poland. Zanussi is a director, who today teaches at different universities of the world, besides making films and acting as a film producer, he is also a trained physicist and philosopher.
Zanussi is a director who shows in his films, for example, how some may want others to commit crimes, but repent and feel guilty after the crime is committed, or a film about defending women’s rights from feminists.
Zanussi was also a guest in Armenia last fall. He taught young Armenian directors at Golden Apricot Cinema School.
“Young people create different cinema, which is different from the cinema created by their senior generation, and it is always important to know those thoughts and guide,” says Zanussi.
The renowned director says producing films in Armenia is a difficult job, but that there are ways for development, which is possible by creating independent cinema halls where young people will be able to show their films with the support of the state.
The current festival is also distinguished by the show of a number of works by Armenian directors. For instance, the July 13 show of Vigen Chaldranyan’s “Maestro” film attracted a full-capacity audience at Moscow Cinema House. Chaldranyan believes that people had come to watch the film not only because it contained some political subtext (it shows the bloody post-election developments in Armenia in February/March 2008), but also because it presents how one individual’s may be ruined because of his surroundings.