Society 09:47 01/06/2013

Filmmaker Eric Nazarian: On eve of 100th anniversary of Armenian Genocide we need a catharsis

“I’m not a soldier; my gun is my camera, and my pen.” Eric Nazarian’s words rung out across the lecture hall of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center in Belmont, Mass., during his presentation on Thurs., May 2, according to The Armenian Weekly. His talk followed a screening of his short film, “Bolis,” part of an omnibus film project entitled, “Do Not Forget Me, Istanbul.” His declaration belies the power of his work to combat taboos about the Armenian experience, however. “Bolis” was the first Turkish film that employed the word “genocide” explicitly in reference to the Armenian Genocide of 1915; in fact, this was a condition of Nazarian’s involvement in the project. Speaking freely through images and words has been the theme of his career as a photojournalist, screenwriter, and filmmaker.

Born in 1976 in Hrazdan, Armenia, Eric Nazarian moved to the U.S. with his family at the age four. The move was a multi-legged journey, from Yerevan to Moscow, Rome, and Columbus, Ohio, before the family ultimately settled in Glendale, Calif. Nazarian’s grandparents, aunt, and uncle joined them less than a year later from Columbus via Louisiana. “There’s this quote I love by Kierkegaard the philosopher, who says, ‘You live life forwards, but you understand it backwards.’ And growing up I didn’t have any memories of my early childhood, but oddly, as I get older there are certain flashbulb memories that come to me of that time… I remember the sadness, I remember the bittersweetness, and I remember the cold of Moscow.”

In LA, Nazarian’s father opened a photography shop, while his mother worked as a dressmaker. Although growing up in the cinema-driven environment of LA surely helped, Nazarian believes that his love of telling stories through images would have developed regardless of his surroundings. He attributes this mainly to his father, Haik, who was the catalyst for his love of film. Nazarian compares his father to the main character of the film “Cinema Paradiso,” for the avid way Haik Nazarian watched movies as a child in the cinemas of Tehran.

Growing up, Eric Nazarian found his family’s love for film contagious. Prominent actors were discussed so consistently and familiarly that he thought they were family. “My whole life growing up, [these actors] were talked about so much that I swear to you, there was a part of my childhood when I thought that all these people, like Marlon Brando, that they were talking about so casually, I thought they were family. I thought someday I would meet them…literally I thought, ‘Yeah, one day Marlon’s gonna walk in that door, and we’re gonna have a good time and he’ll probably go drinking with my dad.’ I took it literally.”

Nazarian used to finish his homework and then record movies off of TV so that he could watch them with his father after he came home from work. “It was our bonding mechanism,” he says. These father-son interactions produced more than just bonding; Nazarian credits “everything in my life to my father’s love of images and storytelling… I’ve been blessed to have a family that supported and encouraged and nurtured the arts in the house. That encouragement gave me this bulletproof vest to try, and fail, and to try again, and fail more gloriously, and keep trying until you…define your voice. That support is invaluable.”

Nazarian recalls building his first pinhole camera in middle school, which he nicknamed “The Pin Panther,” and how it ignited his excitement about photography. “The idea of creating a camera from black cardboard was really, really fascinating for me. I mean when you’re just in junior high, you don’t even know how to shave yet, but you’re building this black box and there’s a hole in there and you have to go in this darkroom, put in a little three-and-a-half or four inch emulsion inside this camera, tape it, go into the campus, and take a picture of a fruit tree or the bleachers or a building, and then come back and go into the chemical process—and then your image comes out. And that really set the tone of this ‘Did I get it? Did I get it?’” Spending afternoons after school in his family’s photo lab, “[My father] would teach me how to take black and white photos and develop them.” Nazarian’s Aunt Parik was a photo archive manager at AIM Magazine, and he credits her as a further source of his interest in images. Nazarian went on to study at the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Cinematic Arts and worked as a photojournalist during his time as a student. As a photojournalist in LA, Nazarian saw himself as tasked with capturing the fading history of the city’s golden age and strived to preserve it.

After graduating from USC, Nazarian made several trips to Nagorno-Karabagh as a photojournalist and screenwriter between 1998 and 2003, and saw “…the ravages of the war’s aftermath, the long-term effects of war on people that have absolutely nothing to do with the guns and the bullets and the murders and violence,” he says. “What journalism and photojournalism can do at their highest level is to inform and make people aware in a capacity that [is possible] no other way… That night at the [NAASR] screening, a very dear friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in 11 years showed up. He was blinded when he was a child by a bomb that he picked up in Stepanakert, in Nagorno-Karabagh. And now he’s a student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His name is Artak Beglaryan. And he’s an inspiration to me. Seeing him here, 11 years later, all the strokes of destiny come together.”

Screenwriting and photojournalism had always been complementary interests for Nazarian. Post-graduation, he feverishly began to write screenplays. “Films are words and images, so this was a natural marriage.” It was a fruitful marriage, as well, leading to Nazarian’s first film, “The Blue Hour,” a story of the unwittingly interconnected lives of four strangers in LA. “The Blue Hour” was accepted into the 2007 San Sebastian International Film Festival; and at the festival, Nazarian had a transforming experience: “After the movie, a woman came up to me with her daughter…and this young girl just said, ‘My mother wants to know how you knew about her life,’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she said that in the third story there is a peripheral character who was a nurse in an old folk’s home for 20 years, and what I showed is what her mother saw every day, people grieving. And I just dedicated the movie to her that day. I said, ‘I made this movie for you.’ And that was the first time in my life that a complete stranger from another part of the world, from Basque country, could read something into the film that I had never intended, and make it their own. So it’s not my movie anymore, it belongs to her and the audience.”

The success of “The Blue Hour” marked Nazarian’s debut on the international film scene, but his reputation was further enhanced when he was awarded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2008 Nicholl Fellowship, the most prestigious screenwriting award in the world, for his screenplay “Giants.” Inspired by and dedicated to his brother, Ravik, who died at a young age due to a medical condition, “Giants” tells the story of a young man who dreams in spite of a reality he cannot change. “I remember meeting Eva Maria Saint from ‘On The Waterfront’ [and] she presented me with the fellowship… In a weird stroke, it was destiny. My father gave me that script when I was 14, and he said, ‘You have to be a writer before you can be a filmmaker.’”

Nazarian says that while all his work have thematic ties, each film is its own little world, populated by characters conjured by his imagination who demand that their stories be told. His next project is the film adaptation of Chris Bohjalian’s novel The Sandcastle Girls. Describing it as his “most personal adaptation yet,” Nazarian said that the film projector in his mind went wild when he read the book, and he knew immediately that he had to make it into a movie. “It’s going so well and Chris has been an incredible supporter of my vision for the film.”

“It’s time,” he continued. “It’s time for the stories of the genocide to be told, and the more good movies out there, the merrier. On the eve of the 100th [anniversary of the Armenian Genocide] we need a catharsis.”



Source Panorama.am
Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:

Newsfeed

23:00
Naira Karapetyan speaks about Hrant Dink and Garo Palyan at PACE’s session
Member of Armenian Delegation to the PACE, MP Naira Karapetyan has delivered a speech at today’s plenary session of the Parliamentary...
22:03
Shavarsh Kocharyan. The leadership of Azerbaijan should have read the UN Charter long ago not to become an object of mockery with its rattling illiteracy
Deputy Foreign Minister of RA Shavarsh Kocharyan speaking with Panorama.am reacted to the ridiculous statement of President of Azerbaijan...
20:17
EPP political group discusses corruption scandal involving Luca Volontè
Today, before the launch of the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the faction of European...
19:38
Karen Ulubabyan posthumously awarded with "For Service in Battle" medal
On 23 January President Bako Sahakyan signed a decree according to which serviceman of the NKR Defense Army's N division Karen Ulubabyan was...
19:21
PACE to conduct observation mission in Armenia’s Parliamentary elections
The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a decision on conducting an observation mission during...
18:44
No problems related to Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant, Hayk Harutyunyan assures
There are no problems related to Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant. Deputy Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources Hayk...
16:15
Pedro Agramunt re-elected PACE President, Hermine Naghdalyan _ PACE Vice-President
During PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) winter session launched today representative of the European People's Party...
15:35
Tata Steel: Aronian outplays Anish Giri
Tata Steel chess tournament is underway in Wijk aan Zee town, Netherlands. Armenian GM Levon Aronian is taking part in the championship. The...
15:34
Samvel Martirosyan insists Lapshin case could have far-reaching consequences
Expert in International Law Ara Ghazaryan doubts the lawfulness of Azerbaijani extradition request for Alexander Lapshin, arguing extradition...
15:18
Clear ice across several highways in Armenia
Armenia’s Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies informed Panorama.am that as of 14:30 January 23,...
14:13
PACE winter session to highlight attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe
Debates on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe, the challenges and accountability of online media and journalism, and the...
13:41
Zvartnots Airport operations back to normal
Yerevan Zvartnots International Airport is operating as normal on January 23, Press Secretary at Armenia International Airports CJSC Gevorg...
13:07
The Washington Times: Trump can deliver the dream of a new beginning to the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan
US President Trump has the historic opportunity to truly earn he Nobel Peace Prize by using his self-proclaimed mastery of deal-making to...
12:23
OSCE monitoring to be conducted in Martakert region of Artsakh
The OSCE Mission will conduct a planned monitoring of the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan, in the...
12:21
RA People’s Painter Zaqar Khachatryan passed away
RA People’s Painter Zaqar Khachatryan died aged 93, Ministry of Culture reported in a statement. The National Gallery of Armenia...
12:05
Armenian soldier killed in Aleppo neighborhood fighting
Syrian Armenian servicemen Jano Gorachyan, 20, was killed in a fierce fighting on the outskirts of Aleppo city. Arevelk Daily reports, Jano was...
11:26
Tigran Petrosian named Armenian Rapid Chess Champion 2017
Armenian Rapid Chess Championship 2017 ended on Sunday in the Chess House attended by 60 chess players, including 15 GMs, 13 International and...
11:13
Israel lifts restrictions on building more homes in East Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told senior ministers he is lifting restrictions on settlement building in East Jerusalem, Reuters...
10:54
Armenian serviceman killed by Azerbaijani fire
The Azerbaijani forces have violated the ceasefire along the Line of Contact between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan for 55 times on the night...
10:30
Fog observed on Armavir roads
Armenian Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies reports that as of 09:30 January 23, clear ice is observed on Yerevan...
20:13
Newly appointed governor in Van removes Armenian texts from the road signs
The newly-appointed governor of Van’s Edremit (Artamet) district of Turkey Atıf Çiçekli has instructed to remove the road...
20:10
Three female MPs sent to hospital after violent altercation in Turkish parliament
Three lawmakers were hospitalized late on January 19 following a brawl between women lawmakers that erupted after independent lawmaker Aylin...
19:43
Feeble snow expected in the territory of Armenia
Feeble snow is expected in most of the territory of Armenia on January 22 afternoon and at night, while no precipitation is expected on January...
19:19
Aronian, Carlsen played draw at Tata Steel Chess Tournament
Round 6 of the Tata Steel chess tournament took place on Netherlands, where Armenian GM Levon Aronian played draw with World Champion Magnus...
18:49
Armenian freestyle wrestling team came second at Takhti Cup
The 37th edition of Takhti Cup was held on Friday in Iran. In the two-day competition, participated by 16 teams from 11 countries, Armenian...
18:21
Political scientist suggests transferring Lapshin’s case to Kremlin through relevant structures of CSTO and EAEU
Belarus is an authoritarian state, and it seems quite unlikely to expect things happening there without the country’s president’s...
17:37
Italy school bus crash and fire leaves 16 dead
A bus carrying schoolchildren has crashed and caught fire in northern Italy, killing at least 16 people, BBC reported referring to emergency...
17:13
Hovhannes Gabuzyan named Armenian Chess Champion 2017
The final round of the Armenian Men Championship 2017 was held on Saturday, Chess Federation of Armenia reports. Before the final round, the...
16:24
Artsakh President: Any aggression against Artsakh is perceived by the Armenian people as a patriotic war
April developments showed our Defense Army's high combat readiness, determination of our people and the entire Armenian nation to defend the...
16:06
Fitch affirms Armenia at 'B+'; outlook stable
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Armenia's Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at 'B+' with stable outlook....

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}