HUNTER, N.Y.—Scholar Talar Chahinian, photojournalist Scout Tufankjian, filmmaker Eric Nazarian, novelist Aline Ohanesian, and actor and playwright Eric Bogosian offered workshops for Armenian youth at the inaugural Hamazkayin Artlinks program, held at a villa in the Catskill mountains from Aug. 27-30. The program also featured a performance and talk by violinist Nune Melikian.
Sponsored by the Regional Executives of the Eastern USA, Western USA, and Canada, the program was directed by scholar Khatchig Mouradian.
Chahinian discussed modern Armenian cultural history. After a brief overview of the modernization of the Armenian language and the development of modern Armenian literature in pre-genocide Constantinople, post-World War I Paris, and post-World War II Lebanon, the participants engaged in a lively discussion about the challenges facing the Armenian language and culture today.
Tufankjian guided the participants on a journey into the world of photography and photojournalism through her books Yes We Can and There is Only the Earth. The discussion that ensued focused on photojournalism in areas of conflict and war, Armenian communities around the world, and identity.
Ohanesian offered a workshop on long-form writing, and discussed structure and “magic” in the process of writing novels. She also discussed the process of writing her first novel, Orhan’s Inheritance, and led the group with writing exercises.
Bogosian’s workshop focused on theatre and writing. He talked about the hurdles of beginning a career in theatre and film, and the process of researching and writing his most recent book, Operation Nemesis.
Nazarian’s central theme was finding one’s voice in the arts and beyond. After watching several clips from films and conducting exercises, Nazarian screened two Armenian short films, “01-99” and “Djvjig” (Fried Liver), and led a discussion about film and the creative process.
Most workshop leaders stayed for the duration of the three-day program, thereby allowing the participants the opportunity to continue the discussions and exchange ideas.
The program also included hiking, swimming, social hours, and musical programs in the evening.
Bogosian is an author and actor known for his plays “Talk Radio” and “subUrbia,” among other shows. He has starred on Broadway in “Time Stands Still,” and was featured on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He is the author of six plays, including “Talk Radio,” produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and adapted to film by Oliver Stone, garnering Bogosian the prestigious Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear. He has starred in “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory” and “Wonderland.” He has also been featured in films by Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Taylor Hackford, Atom Egoyan, and Agnieszka Holland. His latest book, titled Operation Nemesis, was published by Little Brown in April 2015.
Chahinian holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from UCLA and lectures in the Department of Comparative World Literature at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include world literature, transnationalism, politics of literary history, Western Armenian language, and questions in trauma, aesthetics, and representation. She contributes regularly to the online journal “Critics’ Forum” and directs the Saroyan Project, which works to enhance Armenian language instruction in the Chamlian Armenian School in Southern California. She is the assistant editor of the Armenian Review.
Nazarian is a screenwriter, filmmaker, and photojournalist. In 2007, he wrote and directed “The Blue Hour,” a feature film that won six international awards. In 2008, Nazarian received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® (home of the Oscars) prestigious Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for his original screenplay, “Giants.” Nazarian’s film “Bolis” was the recipient of the Best Short Film Award at the 14th Arpa International Film Festival in 2011. He is currently adapting Chris Bohjalian’s critically acclaimed novel The Sandcastle Girls for the big screen.
Ohanesian was born in Kuwait and immigrated to Southern California at the age of three. After getting her M.A. in history, she abandoned her Ph.D. studies when she realized her heart belonged to writing. She was the finalist for the PEN Bellwether Award for Socially Engaged Fiction and the Glimmer Train Best New Writers Award. Her first novel, Orhan’s Inheritance, is currently being translated into several languages. Ohanesian is an alumna of the Bread Loaf and Squaw Valley Writer’s conferences. She lives in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with her husband and two young sons.
Tufankjian is a photojournalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, US News & World Report, Le Monde, Newsday, and the New York Times. Her book featuring a selection of the photographs from Obama’s presidential campaign, Yes We Can: Barack Obama’s History-Making Presidential Campaign in December 2008, sold out its initial 55,000 copy run a month before it was released. Tufankjian’s photo of Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama hugging each other, released in November 2012, became the most-liked photo on Facebook and most retweeted tweet in history. Her more recent book, There is Only the Earth: Images from the Armenian Diaspora Project, was published in 2015.
At the conclusion of the program, Hamazkayin Central and Regional representatives thanked the workshop directors, speakers, and participants.
ArtLinks 2016 will be held in a different region in North America.