Summing up our week in Armenia

Being officially selected at the Golden Apricot International Film Festival was great, in a packed program with red carpet opening and closing ceremonies, a press conference and two screenings in Gyumri and Yerevan. We also had the opportunity to meet journalists, film critics, ardent film fans and other directors from across the world including the enigmatic Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and the entertaining Darren Aronofsky.

Our Yerevan premiere at the newly refurbished Cinematographers Union’s Cinema (informally called Kinoi Tun – The House of Film) was an enjoyable occasion, allowing us to show the film to the Armenian audience, friends and family, who have been supporting the film for some time. Despite the heat, everyone stayed on for a long Q&A session about the film, its artistic choices, poetry, the role of Western Armenian etc.

On August 16th we were invited to screen in Armenia’s second city Gyumri, at the packed Hoktember Cinema attended by “Taniel’s” cast, crew and representatives from the mayor’s office. The screening, Q&A, poetry performance, press and TV interviews were followed by a drinks reception. It was wonderful to reunite with our actors and share “Taniel” for the first time with so many of the talented people that made the film possible.

The next day, we had the huge honour to be invited to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, Yerevan. It was a highly emotional event for all of us, screening at the memorial for the 1.5 million Armenians who died during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, something that most of the crew and cast could directly relate to. The reaction from the audience to the screening was amazing, something that will remain with us for a long time. The screening was followed by a Q&A session, press and tv interviews and the event was closed by a performance of Varoujans’s letters and poetry by our lead actors Tigran Gaboyan and Yegya Akgun. The Museum also organised a temporary exhibition of Varoujan’s books and other materials relating his life and work for us that day. We can’t thank the museum enough for inviting us and their hard work to make this wonderful and memorable day possible.

In addition, we screened at the world renowned Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, a digital media learning centre, where both Garo and Nare Ter-Gabrielyan, the film’s producer have taught temporarily. It was a particularly rewarding to show the film and talk about filmmaking to a bunch of talented, excited kids.

Outside the screenings we met with the Deputy Minister of Diaspora Aramayis Grigoryan for a productive meeting discussing further collaboration, and were invited to tea with the lovely and engaging Judith Farnworh, the British Ambassador to Armenia to talk about Sean Bean, Brexit, Velvet Revolution and everything Taniel.

It was a fantastic, intense, and an extremely hot week, full of wonderful moments, meetings with friends, questions and comments about the film, lots of food and many bottles of ‘Koor’ wine, for which the team developed fondness.

Next stop: Sydney Australia for AFFS in August. Details to follow.