Freedom is a state of mind.
That’s what Armenia’s selection for the Oscars’ international feature film category set out to showcase. Set in post-World War II Armenia under Soviet rule, the film Amerikatsi has been all the buzz in the Armenian community—and for good reason. Directed, written by and starring Michael Goorjian, the film follows Charlie Bakhchinyan, who repatriates to Armenia from the United States in 1947, lured by the promise of a better life for ethnic Armenians.
Amerikatsi is not just a story of that distinctive resilience that has become synonymous with being Armenian itself, but is one of whimsical humor and impassioned self-discovery. Charlie is wonderful to watch.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the film because I believe everyone – Armenian or not – should experience this once (and if possible, in theaters). Yet what I will say is this: this film made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me uncomfortable. It made me feel seen. Any emotion or feeling you can think of with respect to the Armenian experience – in all its varying shapes and forms – will be represented in this film, even if not displayed outwardly.
Representation is so important, and seeing Charlie’s story on the big screen captured the feelings we all are familiar with about returning home. I’m so proud that this film is representing us at the Oscars. Win or not, just knowing it has been created for all to see invokes immense pride.
Goorjian’s role as director, writer and actor (I can’t even believe this! So impressive!) adds an extra layer of awe to the film, and again, should be a source of pride for Armenians. His portrayal of Charlie is genuine, making it easy for me to instantly connect with his character and his journey in the film.
With its engaging storytelling and familiar historical setting, Amerikatsi promises to captivate Armenian audiences everywhere. It is a reminder that, even in the face of unexpected challenges as depicted in the film, the human spirit can find little bouts of joy. In the face of darkness, Charlie lets the light in. I’m sure upon watching it, light will be let into your life, too.
As Amerikatsi vies for the Oscar, it is a testament to how long cinema has endured and tackled themes like identity, culture and the human condition. The multifaceted efforts made by Gorjian to produce the movie are evidence of the brilliance and imagination that characterize Armenia’s rich films.
With Amerikatsi, Armenia offers a narrative that breaks boundaries and invites viewers to take on a transformative journey alongside the characters, ultimately redefining what it means to be home. Let’s all wish the cast and crew of Amerikatsi the best of luck as they embark on the road to the Oscars!