NEW YORK—The Rated “SR” Socially Relevant Film Festival New York, a new non-profit film festival that will run March 14-20 at New York’s Quad Cinema, will feature a total of six films and documentaries that revolve around Armenian-themed issues. Founded by award-winning actor, filmmaker, and curator Nora Armani, the festival will showcase films with human interest stories and socially relevant themes as a response to the proliferation of violence and violent forms of storytelling.
Feature films include “If Only Everyone,” a narrative by Natalia Belyauskene that focuses on a young woman’s search for her the grave of her father, who perished in the Karabagh War, and “Orphans of the Genocide,” a documentary by Bared Maronian that takes the viewer on an emotional visual journey through never-before-seen archival footage and memoirs of orphans.
The hour-long documentary by Lucine Sahakyan, “Hamshen Community at the Crossroads of Past and Present,” traces the past and present lives of today’s Hamshen Armenians. The short “Bavakan” by Adrineh Gregorian, which reports on sex-selective abortions in Armenia, will also be screened. Two other Armenian-centric films include “Armenian Activists Now!” by Robert Davidian, a documentary about the current socio-political climate in Armenia, and “Later than Usual,” a narrative short by David Hovan. Each of these films sheds light on significant historical events in Armenia’s past or controversial issues the country faces today.
“‘Orphans of the Genocide’ deals with a tragic Armenian experience, but in many ways these experiences were of universal proportions,” says Maronian, whose inspiration for the film came from an article by Robert Fisk titled “Living Proof of the Armenian Genocide.” He adds, “After all, children of all genocides went through the same horrific experiences that scarred them for life. Orphans of the Rwandan Genocide, orphans of the Holocaust, and orphans of the Armenian Genocide were left parentless and were subjected to all imaginable human indignities.”
Director Lusine Sahakyan’s research on the Hamshen Armenians, who were forcibly Islamicized over centuries, took her to Hamshenian territories where she filmed their way of life, and recorded events and conversations. “Both sorrowful and inspiring feelings accompanied me incessantly when I walked in the almost inaccessible pastures and villages, hidden in the dense woodlands of Rize, Ardvin, and Erzrum provinces,” says Sahakyan, whose film won the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award at the ARPA International Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2012. “It is painful to see people, estranged from their roots, their history, and national identity.” Sahakyan notes, however, that today’s Hamshenians have been able to retain their local ethnographic identity within a Turkish atmosphere.
The tragedies resulting from the Karabagh War will also be felt through Belyauskene’s “If Only Everyone,” which was produced by Michael Pogosian, who also starred in the film. “War, on either side, has suffering and death, and my main aim was to capture the fact that people anywhere experience the same feelings when it happens,” says Belyauskene. “If Only Everyone tells the story of a young woman who goes to Armenia to plant a shrub where her father was killed in combat. “We wanted our movie to make the beautiful land of Karabagh a more peaceful place after all the years since this terrible conflict.”
Over 40 narrative and documentary films will screen, including 10 feature films that will compete for the Grand Prize—a week-long theatrical engagement at the Quad Cinema, courtesy of the QuadFlix Select Program—and 8 documentaries that will compete for the documentary prize. The winner will receive a VOD DVD distribution deal courtesy of Cinema Libre Studio, a leader in the distribution of social issue documentaries and independent feature films.
“I am delighted that my film, ‘Orphans of the Genocide,’ is a part of the official selection of the Rated SR film festival,” says Maronian. “I believe that Rated SR is that crucial missing link needed to complete the circle of the many film festivals fulfilling their missions. Rated SR, however, has the most noble mission of all, which is promoting socially relevant films.”
Packages and discounted ticket options, including weekend and week passes, are now on sale at www.ratedsrfilms.org. Individual tickets can be purchased through the Quad Cinema by visiting www.quadcinema.com or by calling (212) 255-2243.
For more information, visit www.ratedsrfilms.org.