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

19:09
Armenia weather: Temperature to rise by 3-4 degrees in coming days
On August 20-24, no precipitation is predicted in the territory of Armenia, according to a report by the Hydro-Meteorological Service of...
18:51
Large asteroid to safely pass Earth on Sept. 1
A large near-Earth asteroid will pass safely by our planet on September 1, at a distance of seven million kilometers, or about 18 Earth-Moon...
18:07
Armenia saw inflation in food products in second quarter of 2017
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 101.3% in the second quarter of the current year, compared to the 98.3% for the indicated period of 2016...
17:17
Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Azerbaijan in September
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to pay official visits to several states at the end of August and early September, Ermenihaber...
16:33
Medical tourism on the rise in Armenia, surgeon says
Armenia has seen an increase in the inbound tourism flows to the country for medical reasons especially during the summer season, an Armenian...
14:52
Finland killings: Stabbings in Turku a 'terror attack'
Police in Finland say they believe the killing of two people in the south-western city of Turku on Friday was a terrorist attack, BBC reports....
14:26
Azerbaijani forces fire over 3300 shots towards Armenian positions over past week
The Azerbaijani forces continued violating the ceasefire along the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh/NKR) and...
14:07
Fallen hero Adam Sahakyan would turn 21 today
An old yard and a small house on Abovyan street in Yerevan– this is where hero Adam Sahakyan spent his childhood and adolescence,...
12:35
Film about Aram Khachaturian to be shot in Russia
One of the film production companies in Russia is preparing to shoot a feature film about renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian,...
11:53
Hollywood actor John Malkovich to visit Armenia
World famous Hollywood actor John Malkovich is set to visit Armenia to attend the solemn opening ceremony of the 5th Aram Khachaturian...
11:32
Armenia’s Levon Aronian wins Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz
Rapid and Blitz competition, which was the fourth stop on the Grand Chess Tour 2017 taking place at Saint Louis, US, is officially over, with...
19:35
Erdogan tells Turks in Germany to vote against Merkel
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats were enemies of Turkey and called on...
19:00
Syria: Armenian family that fled Raqqa describe years of living under IS
An Armenian family shared their experience of living under the control of self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in Syria before they managed to...
18:24
President holds meeting to discuss preparations for Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Forum and establishment of Pan-Armenian Council
Today President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan held a meeting to discuss the preparations for the forthcoming Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Forum and...
17:47
Levon Aronian leads Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz with combined score
The ten GMs have played nine rounds of Blitz chess at Rapid and Blitz competition, which is the fourth stop on the Grand Chess Tour 2017 taking...
16:59
Police arrest fourth person over Catalonia attacks
A fourth person was arrested on Friday in connection with the attacks in northeastern Spain that killed 14 and wounded 130, Catalan police said...
16:54
Wine, brandy production volumes increase in Armenia
“The volumes of wine production have increased by 30% in Armenia, with the brandy production seeing a 61% rise,” Chairman of the...
16:04
Georgia asks Ukraine to extradite ex-president Saakashvili
The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has sent a formal request to the law enforcement agencies in some countries, including Ukraine, for the...
15:30
Catholicos of All Armenians sends condolences to King of Spain over Barcelona attack
On August 18, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, sent a letter of condolence to the King of Spain...
15:14
“I do not know what comes next” – Armenians in Barcelona worried following deadly attack
“The traffic is currently stopped at the center of Barcelona,” an Armenian citizen living in Barcelona for many years, told...
14:25
Armenian church in Turkey to be restored, turned into cultural center
The Armenian church in Akşehir town of Turkey's Konya Province will be restored. After its restoration, the church will become a...
13:47
President Sargsyan offers condolences to King of Spain over Barcelona terror attack
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan sent a letter of condolences to King Felipe VI of Spain on the terrorist attack in Barcelona that claimed...
13:38
Many tourists visit Armenia to take part in barbecue fest, tourism committee official says
“The barbecue festival can already be considered an international event in terms of both the foreign pavilions and a high number of...
12:41
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is among Russian foreign policy priorities – Zakharova
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs are currently making preparations for the next summit on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Spokeswoman of Russia’s...
12:17
Smoking spots detected at Khosrov Forest State Reserve
A reconnaissance flight operated early Friday on the helicopter of the Armenian Defense Ministry over Khosrov Forest State Reserve has detected...
11:31
Barcelona attack: 13 killed as van rams crowds in Las Ramblas
Thirteen people died and dozens were injured when a van ploughed into crowds in Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas area, Catalan police and...
19:00
Weather update: Temperatures to gradually rise in Armenia
On 18-22 August, no precipitation is predicted in the territory of Armenia, according to a report by the Hydro-Meteorological Service of...
18:41
Reports on Azeri shelling of Armenia’s bordering villages submitted to international structures
The Armenian Human Rights Defender’s Office has summed up all the information obtained during the fact-finding mission on the Azerbaijani...
18:13
Wild animals and birds of Khosrov Forest State Reserve resettled in safe places
Wildfires erupted in in Khosrov Forest State Reserve on August 12, as well as in the vicinity of Artvan community in Armenia’s Vayoc Dzor...
17:27
Armenia’s minister of sport and youth affairs briefs President Sargsyan on ministry-implemented activities
During today’s working meeting with the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Hrachya...

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?"}