“It’s Spring…” wins Best Picture and Best Screenplay at BIFF

BOSTON, Mass.—On April 17, the Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) officially announced the winners of this year’s awards at the closing night gala event. Alexander Khachatryan, producer and lead actor in the film “It’s Spring…,” accepted the Best Picture award. Best Original Screenplay was presented to writer Harout Ghukassian. Representatives from more than 30 countries participated in the 21st BIFF with 80 short and feature films which were screened from April 13 until April 17 at the AMC Theatres Boston Common on Tremont Street.

“It’s Spring…,” directed by Roman Musheghyan, is based on the events of the four-day war in April of 2016, when Azerbaijan’s attempts to invade and unprovoked attacks on the Republic of Artsakh were repelled by the Armenian forces.

Khachatryan, with his masterful performance, plays the role of Aram Amatuni, a retired special forces commander who has devoted his entire life to defending his country. The years of his service to his country have taken their toll on Aram’s family life, and especially on his relationship with his son, Gnel (played by Armen Margaryan) who is now a successful businessman. Levon Hakhverdyan plays the grandson, a talented violinist who has been accepted to a prestigious music school in Europe when the war at the front confronts him with choices which will change the course of his life. The director subtly places elements of Armenian culture throughout the movie, which magically serve as a pedestal for the role of the mother, depicted by the incredibly beautiful performance of Mardjan Avetisyan.

The BIFF Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture Awards for “It’s Spring…”

While the movie is centered on patriotism and the struggle of the Armenian people for defending statehood and freedom, it also sheds light on an age-old human dilemma – since the times of Abraham. How can one be ready to sacrifice what is most valuable when the time comes?

As an Armenian watching this powerful movie, I was stirred by how real these existential questions are for us as a nation today. The faces of our heroes who sacrificed their lives defending our homeland came to my mind – brave young men and women, such as Anush Apetyan, Avetis Booloozian, Albert Hovannisyan, Alen Margaryan and thousands of others who not only gave their lives, but their families who gave what is most valuable to them.

Members of the Armenian community in Boston at the second screening of the movie “It’s Spring…” at the BIFF

On the morning of April 18, my wife Isabella and I met with Khachatryan and Ani Simonian, who offered her assistance in promoting the movie in the US. We had the privilege of giving them a little tour of our community in Boston and the Hairenik Building where they met Armenian Weekly editor Pauline Getzoyan and Hairenik Weekly editor Zaven Torigian, as well as ARF Archives director George Aghjayan.

Alexander Khachatryan (right) holding the original May 28, 1918 Declaration of Independence of the First Republic of Armenia housed in the ARF Archives after receiving a tour from ARF Archives director George Aghjayan (left). Also pictured (l. to r.) are Ani Simonian and Isabella and Harmik Avedian

While discussing the festival and the reception of the movie by its audience, Simonian showed us a recorded video of the full house standing ovation after the premiere screening in Boston. Khachatryan was pleasantly surprised with the movie’s ability to connect with the non-Armenian audience.

I asked Khachatryan what sparked the idea of this movie in him, and how long did it take to make? “This movie is the debt that my soul deeply felt the need to pay,” he replied. Then, he went on to say that during Soviet times many good movies were made in Armenia, but because of the oppressive political censorship and communist ideology, none of the movies were allowed to reflect the patriotic feelings of our nation. In early 2016, Khachatryan and Ghukassian, one of the best playwrights in Armenia, were discussing creating a movie about our nation’s victory in the first Artsakh war, while keeping in mind that with public sentiment regarding conditions in the country being low, the willingness of the young generation to enlist to defend the country might have been declining. It was not long before the spring of 2016 arrived and the enemy attacked our homeland. When they saw how countless young men, many of them college students, lined up next to the veterans from the first war at the military commissariat to volunteer as soldiers, they realized this is the story that needs to be told, and the direction of the movie became clear.

Khachatryan shared the challenges of making “It’s Spring…” Some of the production coincided with the pandemic and the 2020 Artsakh War. Despite the near-impossible situation, the production team continued the work. Khachatryan’s decision not to compromise the quality in the making of this motion picture has turned “It’s Spring…” into an homage to fallen soldiers and their families who have set the bar for what it means to love one’s country. I believe this masterpiece will inspire generations to come, much like the works by the great novelist Raffi in the 19th century.

“It’s Spring…” is the winner of multiple awards at 11 international film festivals. There are plans underway for a screening in the community.

Harmik Avedian

Harmik Avedian

Harmik Avedian has been involved in the Armenian communities of Tehran and Boston, serving on the Armenian National Committee of Iran, Council of the Armenian Prelacy of Tehran and the executive body of Hamazkayin Eastern Region of the US. He also has organized multiple tours to Western Armenia by the Center for Historical Studies of Van and Vaspurakan.
Harmik Avedian

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