TORONTO—Forty films from around the world will be screened at the 12th annual Pomegranate Film Festival (POM), Nov. 15-19. A diverse range of films will touch upon the issues of genocide denial, the current refugee crisis, mounting tension in the Caucasus, civil society in Armenia, and LGBTQ rights.
Prominent guests will include Atom Egoyan, Arsinée Khanjian, Dean Cain, Montel Williams, members of Billy Talent, Moses Znaimer, Jivan Avetisyan from Arstakh, and singer Eileen Khatchadourian from Beirut.
On Nov. 15, a special program will be dedicated to Arstakh. POM guest Jivan Avetisyan will present “The Last Inhabitant,” kicking off the festival at Fairview Mall Cineplex. The film is a powerful historical drama on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, with music by Serj Tankian of System of a Down.
The films on Thursday evening will continue at Fairview Mall Cinema, in a special program called Soirée française. Robert Guédiguian’s “La Villa” will commence the program. Filmed in a picturesque fishing village, the story revolves around the lives of three grown children in a family and grapples with the most pressing issue in Europe right now.
Stéphane Kazandjian’s “Bad Buzz” will take the audience on a wild ride in this light-hearted comedy following two television producers who do all it takes to save their careers within 48 hours.
A series of matinees will follow. The documentary “Children of Vank” touches on the identities of Islamized Armenians. Two brilliant films related to the genocide will be screened later that afternoon, including Australian filmmaker Shahane Bekarian’s “Children of a Genocide” and Naré Mkrtchyan’s “The Other Side of Home,” which was nominated for the Best Short Film at the 2017 Academy Awards.
Dramatic features set in beautiful Armenia will also delight the attendees on Nov. 17. David Safarian’s “Hot Country, Cold Weather” is a historical drama set in Armenia in the 1980s. A special double-feature will also take place with indie director Arshak Amirbekyan’s “Mariam’s Day Off,” a story of a prostitute who discovers the beauty of a newfound friendship, and Martin Matevosyan’s “The Gift Of Diana” about the complex world of relationships.
Friday evening will dazzle at the Regent Theatre with director Joe Berlinger’s “Intent to Destroy,” a candid look at the making of the film “The Promise” starring Christian Bale, while also challenging the denialist campaign of Turkey to suppress recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
A memorable experience will follow with the screening of “Ararat,” which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. A special introduction will be delivered by Atom Egoyan and Arsinée Khanjian on the groundbreaking film that confronts the challenges of trauma, genocide denial, and the representation of truth. Talented singer and songwriter Eileen Khatchadourian, from Beirut, will present her new song composed for the anniversary of the film.
The Saturday matinee program will celebrate a symphony of Canadian films in a segment called Canada 150. An eyeopening program called Human Rights Watch presented by Arsinée Khanjian will follow. It will showcase the World Premiere of Khanjian’s new film, “Way Back Home,” directed by Seda Grigoryan, as well as Gagik Ghazareh’s “Listen To Me,” which deals with LGBTQ rights in Armenia and was produced by PINK Armenia.
Torontonian filmmaker Daniel Sarkissian will present his latest film, “What Is Classic Rock?” featuring the interviews of many of the best rock musicians alive today. The evening will conclude with POM’s unforgettable Gala Soirée, featuring Vahe Yan’s “Roots,” a lighthearted romance set in Armenia.
Super Sunday will begin with “Apricot Groves” by Iranian filmmaker Pouria Heidary Oureh. Sarik Andreasyan’s “Guardians” will follow, taking viewers on a joyride through the world of superheroes with superpowers. The much-anticipated documentary “Architects of Denial” will follow, produced by Montel Williams and Dean Cain, who will attend the special screening.
An international co-production between France and Lebanon, “The Traveller” will be screened as the Festival’s penultimate film, highlighting the impressive cinematography of New York filmmaker Saro Varjabedian.
The evening will conclude with “Yeva,” directed by Anahid Abad from Iran. The film is a touching story of a mother’s quest to protect her daughter by fleeing from Iran to an Armenian village. This beautiful movie was chosen as Armenia’s entry for the 2018 Oscars. The POM award ceremony will close the festival. More info can be found at pomegranatefilmfestival.com and the festival’s Facebook page.