June 14, 2013 by anelim
Thanks to friends, I had an unusual and very interesting cinematic experience a few days ago. We saw two old Armenian films at the Arsenal Cinema in Berlin. I had never (consciously) seen any Armenian cinema before (though I am sure I must have seen something on Soviet and Russian TV). The only Armenian actor I could name off the top of my head is the amazing Армен Джигарханян (Armen Jigarkhanyan) but I know him from Soviet films and LP- fairy tales and not from Armenian ones. So it was good to see something. It was also good to be thrown in the deep by highly philosophical films.
The first one was a short 23 minute b/w documentary about Armenia called Menq (“We”) by Artavazd Peleschyan (Артавазд Пелешян). Very nationalistic, sad and humorous at the same time. Great expressionistic stitching together of images: fascinating from the view point of film editing. For some odd reason WordPress is rejecting the embed code..but it’s really cool so you should see it here: http://rutube.ru/video/04cd89eaf2b6aa8304dc926c86821e33/
(or click on the image). The music is great, too.
Now the second one. There are actually two films with the same name, a more realistic one from 1960 by Kim Arzumanyan and a very poetic and allegoric one by Sergei Parajanov from 1968 (the one we saw). They are both documentaries about the same mediaeval Armenian poet Sayat-Nova (Armenian: Սայաթ-Նովա), born as Harutyun Sayatyan (Armenian: Հարություն Սայադյան on 14 June 1712, Tiflis — died 22 September 1795, Haghpat). His pen(?!) name Sayat Nova meant “Master of Songs” in Persian. (not sure penname is appropriate: he was more of a bard who sang and told his poems as tales). Here is an article about the two films in Yerevan Magazine; and here are both films: