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Interview with film producer Harutyun Khachatryan

-Mr. Khachatryan, you were born and brought up in Akhalkalak. I don’t think that the atmosphere and the colour of the provincial town were favourable to be fascinated with the cinematographic art, especially to dream about the profession of film director. Maybe there were artists in your family?

– My father was an army man. When he came back from the war, he was wounded and he died very soon. At the age of five I lost my father. My losses began when I was still a child. I lost my two brothers and my sister.

– Why did you especially choose the genre of documentary film? Why is it special for you?

– In action film, however successful it is, there is invention, artificiality. The truths of life are more prominent, unpretentious and natural in reality. Literature in itself is a very beautiful art, but when you bring it into cinematographic art, the acting, the dialogues, the atmosphere and the colour become old during time; they become a history, past and don’t interest anyone. If the actor can provide an immediate connection with the audience in the theatre and make the performance contemporary, then action film hasn’t that opportunity. In that sense the opportunities of documentary film are great. I want to mention that my films are not just documentaries; there is also art, philosophy and appraisal which is in the implication and is not evident or obliged.

– What’s your main theme, your main message?

– My films raise questions without obliging prescription, answers. We must find the answer ourselves, each of us our own answer. In America after the show of the film “White Town” (the film is about Akhalkalak), two Armenians were talking while walking out of the hall. One of them complained: “It’s not difficult at all. If I turn the camera over the town, I will make such a film.” I was glad of that estimation. In fact, everything has been so real, so natural that the producer’s work has remained unnoticed while the film has been gathered detail by detail. I want to mention that the film “White Town” was shown in different foreign countries and it successfully took part in international festivals.

– Mr. Khachatryan, the shady sides of life are often depicted in your films. Your camera works in the places where there is pain, deprivation, sufferings, beggars, refugees, homeless people…

– All of my films are about the Armenians, about a type of Armenians. They have no colouring, no tones of national swaggering, and no spirits. Thus, they are about the real Armenian. I have seen Armenians living abroad who are the generation of the Western Armenians who rescued from the genocide, and these Armenians have heard some stories from their ancestors about their country, the massacre, about their origins, but they cannot even speak Armenian and they don’t know who they are, what they want and they live in the borderline of the present and the past with uncertain and meaningless future. I couldn’t help making a film about that kind of an Armenian. I want to understand from where the evil of self denial is born, why the Armenian sometimes feels better among the foreigners than in his own fatherland. I am trying to understand the life of the beggars, their feelings, their joys and sorrows. I am trying to find out where the indifference towards the pain and misery comes from. An artist is like a geological surveyor; he unearths and doesn’t know what he is going to find, what will open in front of him. I am not saying what’s good and what’s bad. Moreover, I don’t criticize. I am not saying that you may not kill but I want to understand why a man kills when he kills, how he comes to that emotional state. And I also want others to look for the answers to these questions. Maybe in that case they will kill less, there will be fewer beggars, the pain, the misery and the sufferings will lessen.
When the film “Kond” appeared on the screen, some people set up a clamour saying that I have discredited our nation and country that has a glorious history and centuries-old culture. Whereas the film “Kond” was about a man, about an Armenian who had appeared on the crossroads of the ruined past and civilization, it was about an Armenian who needed sympathy, compassion, kind-heartedness. And it’s not by chance that many foreign countries bought the film “Kond” and it was shown, loved and appraised. It was considered the most poetic film of the Armenian reality.

-Indeed, your films are exceptionally about the Armenian reality, about Armenian problems. Why do they catch the attention of the foreigners?

– The man is the same everywhere. When watching my films the Dutch, the Swedish, the Persian find themselves. They say that film is about them, because in every part of the planet a man needs love, attention and compassion. In every corner of the planet there is pain, loss, need, deprivation that remains unimportant and unnoticeable in the chaos of the times. In every corner of the world there are rejected people, deserted souls, tears of children, self-denial, pain, indifference, and the spirit and the viability of the Armenian are contagious for all; they give hope and inspire belief. That inner strength and infinite striving for life are the guarantees of our existence and longevity, the most characteristic features of our kind.

– Mr. Khachatryan, you are a successful film producer, your films have been shown in the cities which are considered to be the centres of culture – Paris, Bern, Rome and so on. They have deserved the best prizes in well-known festivals but only a few people know about it in the fatherland. Your films aren’t as known here as they should be.

– There is nothing to be surprised. Two of the best ten film directors are Armenians – Sergei Parajanov and Artavazd Peleshyan, but even they are not as known and appraised in their fatherland as they should be. In another country they would be considered the symbols of their nation. They would be equalized to the national values. Just see how the American cinema does honour to Ruben Mamulyan. The Armenian cinema (both the action film and the documentary film) is powerful from “Honour”, “Pepo” to modern films. We have films which can be compared to the best works of any country. The Armenian cinema has a good reputation in the international sphere and has always received high appraisal. The ominous assertions that we have no cinema and have never had it is a result of ignorance; the reality is that in the cultural scopes of foreign countries the Armenian cinematographic art is more recognized and appraised than in Armenia.

– Mr. Khachatryan, in your films you have touched upon such subjects as the earthquake, the events of the national-liberating fight of Sumgayit, but it seems we have no film about the war of Artsakh. Why do the artists and moreover, the artists of different fields approach this subject carefully?

– I am inclined to accept the regularity of processes. If for the time being the art hasn’t reached on the level of the war of Artsakh, then it is natural, perhaps the wounds are fresh. I don’t know. I think there is no need of panic; we just have to wait. I will soon make a film which will be called “The Tears of the War”. The title already speaks about the content of the film.


Category: #06 (922) 16.02.2012 – 22.02.2012, Spiritual-Cultural