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Armenian Cinema

Armenian Cinema

The lack of financial support and the censorship imposed by the Soviet Union weren’t excuses for Armenia, a little Caucasian country, to develop its cinematography industry. What is more, it was precisely the Bolshevik regime which   boosted it and gave the needed foundlings for a solid beginning.

Almost a year after its annexation to the Soviet Union, the Armenian cinema industry started with baby steps. April the 16th of 1923 is considered the day Armenian cinema was born. That day the Film State Committee, better known as Goskino, was founded and from then on, uncountable rolls and stories have passed through its reels.

Gikor

Gikor

A promising beginning

Taking advantage of the Russian support, the young director Daniel Duznuni (being just 28-years-old) combined forces with the veteran Hamo Bek-Nazarov and sow the soil of a promising cinema. The latter filmed Namus in 1926, a successful drama which was the sensation within the new and naive audience in the small country.

Although it’s difficult to typecast in a genre most of the first Armenian productions, critics across the globe have defined unanimously as innovative. Since conceptual productions such as Zare or Khapus, in which the Iranian and Turkish cultures are portrayed in their attempts to conquer Armenian territory, passing through comedies showing the day-to-day life in the cities (Kikos and Mexican Diplomats) to  the thriller Gikor, one of the  Armenian cinema masterpieces.

The First crisis

Despite the achievements, Armenian film industry began to suffer the lashes of the 30s economic crisis in the US and in the 40s the number of productions plunged as its creativity. In that languid period, the stories told by the Armenian productions became a cliché about revolution heroes and their struggles.

In the 50s and 60s the narrative of the productions changed, combining absurd realities with a new and poetic view of life, but above all, being self-conscious. The result of that quirky mishmash originated the most prominent film of Armenian cinema: The Color of Pomegranates, a moving story about the poet Sayat Nova’s life directed by Sergey Parajnov. The movie, unique and unclassifiable according to critics in both side of the Atlantic, reflected the soviet realism that made its director widely famous.

     

The Color of Pomegranates

The Color of Pomegranates

Parajanov, The Last Spring

Parajanov, The Last Spring

The second crisis

Even though it reached maturity by the 80s, the collapse of the Soviet Union impacted the film industry in all the states under the Iron Curtain. The majority of the studies closed while director and actors faced a momentary pause created by the lack of resources and financial solvency.

By the 90s and the first decade of 2000, the Armenian directors started producing with their own money and showed the new reality the country was facing. Films such as A Voice in the Desert, Blood and Labyrinth illustrated the tension in which Armenian people was living in after the communism influence.

At the same time, a new cluster of filmmakers approached the work of their predecessor and hero: Serjey Parajnov. Productions especially dedicated to honour his work and explain his exceptional contribution to the national cinema were released under the names of: Parajanov, The Last Spring and Parajanov, The Last Collage.

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