Letter: ‘Lost and Found in Armenia’

Dear Editor,

We just finished watching the movie, “Lost and Found in Armenia.” It stars Jamie Kennedy, and everyone around him is, for the most part, Armenian. It is a slice of Armenia that we can all relate to, whether we were born in Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, or the United States. It is full of characters that we all know and can associate with. Beyond just being familiar, the Armenian characters in this film either look like or act like someone we can specifically name.

"It was engaging and hilarious."
‘It was engaging and hilarious.’

We knew the movie was being released this week. We searched Yahoo Movies to see if was being shown anywhere here. No luck. We read online that is was being shown in Detroit. For a minute, we thought about driving there to see it. After a little thought, we simply resolved to wait until it screened in Chicago.

On June 7, the opening night of the movie, we got a call from our friend Seta Semerdjian. She told us the movie was being offered on-demand on Comcast—the same day as the theatrical release. Cool. We dialed it in and watched it. It was engaging and hilarious. We watched it twice and will probably do so again, as the rental allows us to view the film for two days.

If we were to sum it up in one sentence, it’s the Armenian version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

The only real drawback in the movie is the sound. The dialogue is often drowned out by the music. They really should work on this to get it exactly right. Luckily, there were subtitles for the Armenian dialogue which made it easy, but this was not the case for the English dialogue and thus detracted from the movie. At times, the music was simply too loud. We were constantly adjusting the overall volume. There is simply no reason it has to be this way. I do hope the director and producers fix this issue.

The film was shot in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Armenia. The cinematography was much better than the sound. Anyone who has been to Armenia can relate to and enjoy the scenery. The cast was mostly Armenian. Jamie Kennedy was perfect in his role and it would be interesting to know how he got involved in this film. He must have an Armenian connection. The beautiful Angela Sarafyan was equally well cast as the female lead Ani. The real scene-stealer was Mikael Pogosyan who played Grandpa Matsak. Everyone in the village was memorable.

Kennedy plays an American who is vacationing in Turkey. Things go humorously amiss while he is parasailing and ends up falling out of the sky into an Armenian village on the Azeri border. As he thinks he is still in Turkey, he utters the few words in Turkish he knows. The Armenian villagers hear this and assume he is an Azeri spy. The whole thing is zany and we were laughing out loud watching it.

While being a comedy, the film touched on the struggle of Armenians as an isle of Christianity in a sea of Islam. It spoke to the necessity of fighting to protect what remains of our historic lands. The film also spoke to the overall folly of war and underlined the fact that Armenians are a peaceful people. These moments were pearls of seriousness found in the middle of this very entertaining and funny film.

It may not find a wide audience or any great critical acclaim, but it certainly is a film that all Armenians should see.

Mark Gavoor
Chicago, Ill.

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Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.
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11 Comments

  1. Very funny and enjoyable film. But already the Washington Post on 7 JUN 2013 published an acrid and politically-motivated review by Sean O’Connell (http://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/lost-and-found-in-armenia-movie-review/2013/06/07/9d8492d6-cf7f-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html)

    O’Connell writes: “Mistaken by local government officials to be a Russian spy, the man is mercilessly interrogated by his captors until a beautiful female student breaks through the language barrier and comes to his aid.”

    Whereas in the film Bill (Jamie Kennedy) is mistaken to be an Azeri Turkish spy. Has this been written deliberately not to upset Turkish sensitivities and instead insult the Russian ones?

    He then writes: “Ahmed (Serdar Kalsin) is the camouflage-sporting village leader, who views himself as the local dictator and suspects Bill as being part of a larger espionage scheme.”

    But the camouflage-sporting village leader’s name is Alexan (Hrant Tokhatyan) not Muslim/Turkic “Ahmed” played by Serdar Kalsin.

    He further writes: “Sarafyan […] is strikingly beautiful, with an angular face and feline eyes that convey concern and empathy when she has to educate Bill on the hardships of life in Armenia.”

    Nowhere in the film does Ani (Angela Sarafyan) “educate Bill on the hardships of life in Armenia”. She sometimes only educates him on local customs and peculiarities of local mentality. Who benefits from portraying Armenia as a country with “hardships of life” even in a film review?

    O’Connell concludes: “Because she [Ani] is the only person in Armenia who understands English, she’s tapped to be Bill’s translator and, obviously, his love interest.”

    But the action takes place in a remote God forsaken village. How many foreign language-speaking Americans has Mr. O’Connell met in Midwest? How professionally correct is the phrase “the only person in Armenia who understands English”? Is he serious?

    If you wish to write to O’Connell, use this email: [email protected] with “Reader feedback for ‘Lost and Found in Armenia’ movie review” in the subject box.

  2. Yeranuhi, thank you for making these inaccuracies known! O’Connell’s mailbox should be flooded with emails.

  3. Oh, come on, you can’t be serious. This is one reason I dislike being associated with Armenians, because there are so many foolish ones. Not everyone in the world is against Armenians, and contrary to delusional beliefs, there is no global conspiracy.

    There is no reason to politicize every single thing. O’Connell is most likely an idiot, idiots exist everywhere including in journalism.

    Ridiculous issue, but I’m still waiting to see what will top the pitchfork mob against NBC for not covering Armenia more during the Olympics.

    • If you dislike being associated with Armenians don’t pop up in these pages. It’s that simple.

      My comment focused on inaccuracies in a film review. What is unserious about this? Do these inaccuracies suggest that everyone in the world is against Armenians? We don’t know if O’Connell is an idiot, but even an idiot could see that the protagonist was mistaken for an Azeri Turk spy, not a Russian spy. Or that the camouflage-sporting leader in an Armenian village could not be Ahmed played by a Turkish actor. Even an idiot wouldn’t think that there can only be one person in a given country who understands English.

      “contrary to delusional beliefs, there is no global conspiracy.” Then the multitude of historians, statesmen, philosophers, founding fathers, authors, et al, who denounced global conspiracy, must all be delusional idiots.

  4. I am the most open minded and positive person, even I noticed that they did not cover the Armenians during the games, no not because I thought there was a conspiracy, but because during the opening ceremony if you blinked you missed Armenia and later I waited and waited and waited and waited but heard nothing about the Armenian players. I said to my son I will not watch the games, he said you might miss Armenia, I said I would not because they would not cover Armenia, I tell you something for nothing, boy was I right or was I right. This is my personal experience with no theories about a conspiracy, but just the god damn truth about the coverage. You must be able to accept criticizem, so you can improve yourself. Do not attack people who state a fact, try to resolve and improve. In my personal experience if you do not accept criticizem you will leave yourself open to all sorts of accusations.

    • And as a “god damn truth” about the coverage, let me add this. The action begins when the main character Bill is vacationing in Turkey—then a couple of episodes show him running into Turks in the hotel and on the beach–then the action takes us to an Armenian village where the locals mistake Bill for an Azeri spy—then, in an episode, main female character Ani reveals that the Azeris killed dozens of Armenian villagers, including her father, when they attacked the village in the early 1990s—then an episode shows two Azeris capturing an Armenian villager and Ani and attempting to rape her in their “best” national traditions. But guess what, not a word about Turks or Azeri Turks figuring in the film can be found in WP review. NOT A WORD. Instead, non-existing “Russian spy”, “hardships of life in Armenia”, and Ani being “the only person in Armenia” who understands English, come into sight. Some people ascribe these inaccuracies to the author’s idiocy. Sorry, I don’t subscribe to that point of view.

  5. Is this is a movie where we pay money to watch an Armenian girl assimilate and lower the Armenian population on Armenia’s own soil, and we all giggle at the corny jokes and pretend we have a bright future?

    • For corny jokes you must have watched “Jack and Jill”. As for assimilation, lowering Armenia’s population or any type of future, you must have watched them in your dreams.

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