Film: Five landmark moments in Armenian cinematic history

Feb 24 2024
Five landmark moments in Armenian cinematic history

Armenian cinema boasts a rich and complex history, its films spanning themes of historical trauma, cultural identity, and enduring human spirit.

However, while often grappling with the nation’s turbulent past, Armenian filmmakers have also pushed the boundaries of storytelling, their works leaving enduring marks on both national and international cinematic landscapes.

These five films—from a variety of eras—offer a glimpse into the diverse and powerful storytelling that defines Armenian cinema. They tackle historical events, societal upheavals, and deeply personal journeys, all while reflecting the distinct spirit of Armenian culture. Their influence has extended far beyond Armenia, leaving a mark on the global landscape of cinema and inspiring filmmakers and audiences worldwide.

The Color of Pomegranates (1969; Directed by Sergei Parajanov)

An avant-garde masterpiece, The Color of Pomegranates is less a narrative film and more a tapestry of evocative imagery. Director Sergei Parajanov paints a poetic portrait of the Armenian poet Sayat-Nova, focusing less on dialogue and more on tableaux, symbolic gestures, and breathtaking visual compositions. The film’s unique style creates a sense of dreamlike wonder, while elements of Armenian folklore, religious iconography, and vibrant colours form a uniquely expressive cinematic language. Its defiance of traditional filmmaking norms established Parajanov as a cinematic visionary, and The Color of Pomegranates continues to spark awe and analysis in cinema enthusiasts worldwide.

Namus (1925; Directed by Hamo Beknazaryan)

Often considered the founding pillar of Armenian cinema, Namus (Honour) examines a clash between ancient tradition and emerging modernity. Set in a rural Armenian village, the film unfolds a tragic tale of love and betrayal. Seyran and Susan are in love, but Susan has been promised to another man, setting in motion themes of societal expectations, honour, and the devastating impact of outdated customs. Beknazaryan directs with a raw and powerful style, utilising stark landscapes and expressive performances to underscore the emotional turmoil at the heart of the story. Namus became a landmark of early Soviet cinema, remaining a potent exploration of the conflicts faced by Armenian society during a time of social upheaval.

Ararat (2002; Directed by Atom Egoyan)

This Canadian-Armenian historical drama, directed by Atom Egoyan, brings the Armenian Genocide to the forefront through a multifaceted and deeply personal exploration. Ararat intertwines a contemporary story—the filming of a movie about the genocide—with historical reenactments and a family’s struggle with inherited trauma. The film tackles the challenge of representing history and the haunting question of how to carry the burden of a nation’s pain. Egoyan’s intricate, non-linear narrative style reflects the complexities of intergenerational trauma and the struggle for historical recognition. Ararat sparked important conversations about the genocide and its ongoing legacy, solidifying its importance within both Armenian and international film landscapes.

Life Triumphs/Nahapet (1977; Directed by Henrik Malyan)

Another film set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, Life Triumphs is a deeply moving exploration of loss, resilience, and the enduring spirit of a people. Nahapet, a skilled craftsman, witnesses the brutal murder of his wife and child during the horrific events of 1915. Robbed of his family, Nahapet’s life descends into grief and isolation. Yet, amidst the ashes of his former existence, a spark of hope ignites. He finds purpose in rebuilding his village, providing refuge for other survivors, and even finding a new love. With its powerful themes and poignant storytelling, the film is a testament to the enduring power of life, even in the face of unimaginable suffering.

Vodka Lemon (2003; Directed by Hiner Saleem)

This poignant Kurdish-Armenian co-production offers a glimpse into life in a remote, snowbound Armenian village in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. An elderly widower named Hamo finds companionship with Nina, a stranded Russian woman. Despite their differences, they establish a tender bond. Saleem infuses this simple story with warmth, humour, and gentle observations about the shared human need for connection, even amid isolation. Vodka Lemon paints a captivating portrait of resilience and underscores the unique cultural mosaic found within Armenia.

Pakistan Azerbaijan JF 17 Fighter Jet Deal: Pakistan signs largest ever JF 17C fighter jet sale with Azerbaijan amid India Armenia Pinaka deal

Feb 22 2024

Baku: Pakistan has made the biggest defense deal in its history so far. Turkey’s friend Azerbaijan has signed a deal with Pakistan to buy JF-17 fighter jets worth $1.6 billion. Azerbaijan will receive JF-17C Block 3 class fighter jets jointly developed by Pakistan and China. Under this deal, apart from fighter jets, training and weapons will also be given to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is buying this fighter jet at a time when it is continuously threatening its neighboring country Armenia. Not only this, recently Armenia had said that after almost a year of peace, Azerbaijan had killed 4 of its soldiers. To deal with Azerbaijan, Armenia is purchasing many deadly weapons including Pinaka from India.

Pakistan will give JF 17 fighter jet to Azerbaijan

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Company manufactures this fighter aircraft. China has provided the technology of JF 17 fighter jet to Pakistan. Apart from China, this company also makes weapons with the technical help of Turkey. Pakistani company supplies arms to Myanmar, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. This aircraft is manufactured in Kamra, Pakistan. This aircraft of Pakistan and China has become junk in Myanmar and is not even fit to fly. For this reason, the Myanmar Army had issued a stern warning to Pakistan. Myanmar’s Army Chief had even threatened.

Now Pakistan is trying to show it to other countries of the world by selling this fighter jet to its friend Azerbaijan. Pakistan has offered this aircraft to many countries in Africa and Asia but it is not finding a buyer. Talks regarding this aircraft were going on between Pakistan and Azerbaijan for the last decade. The aircraft purchased by Azerbaijan flew for the first time in December 2019. Azerbaijan has purchased drones from Turkey and Israel on a large scale and is continuously strengthening its defense preparedness.

Azerbaijan currently has MiG 29 and Sukhoi 25 fighter jets which are becoming quite old. An agreement regarding this aircraft was signed between Azerbaijan and Pakistan for the first time in 2011 but the deal was not signed. This aircraft has a Russian engine installed due to which the Putin government will also keep an eye on this deal. While Azerbaijan is continuously purchasing killer weapons, Armenia has now reached the shelter of India. India has supplied Pinaka rocket system to Armenia. Apart from this, state-of-the-art artillery has also been given to Armenia. Many more deals are under negotiation in the coming times.

Silent Suffering: Fears of Renewed Armenian Genocide

Yellow Scene Magazine
Feb 22 2024

(Cover Photo: Russian and Azerbaijan soldiers)

“What’s gonna happen to our family? What’s gonna happen to our house and the home that we built there?” said Anahit, an Artsakh Armenian from the village of Martuni, whose worry and uncertainty reflect hundreds of thousands of Artsakhcis today.

Artsakh is an appendage to the Armenian nation. There are traces of ancient history mottled throughout Artsakh, standing as a powerful symbol affirming their long-standing ties to the land. The region encompasses an array of captivating untold stories unfolding into a daunting past and present.

The Gandzasar Cathedral, which translates to “mountain of treasures,” is one of the most prominent churches in Artsakh’s history and was built in the 13th century. Artsakh is also home to the Amaras Monastery, which is known to be the first Armenian school. When asked about the deliberate targeting of Armenian holy and ethnic sites, Anahit revealed some of the severe damage, “You can see pictures of the cathedral today, and the top of the dome is completely detached, and it’s on the floor.”

Damage to cathedrals hit by Azerbaijani military. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

February 2024 marks six months since the brutal land theft of Artsakh and the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Armenian population. Al Jazeera stated, “Armenia says more than 100,000 people fled Nagorno-Karabakh,” which has now made the region nearly devoid of its indigenous Armenian population for the first time in thousands of years. This was followed by a ruthless 9-month blockade, which resulted in the starvation and endangerment of hundreds of thousands of Armenian lives. With the allegiance of corrupt superpowers and the utter silence of the international world layered with the lack of care from local communities, this ethnic cleansing has intentionally been silenced and wholly disregarded.

Lamentably, tragedy is nothing new to Armenians. Following the Armenian genocide of 1915 that involved the systemized mass slaughter of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, what is now Turkey, Armenians faced a series of pogroms and massacres, including the Sumgait, Baku, and Maragha pogroms, as well as the Shushi massacre. Genocide still boldly reveals itself today.

Azerbaijan continues its relentless mission to erase Armenia from the map as Artsakhcis endure the blight of their genocidal war crimes unveiled through invasions, blockades, desecration of Armenian sites, land theft, torture, and mass slaughter.

As the United States and Europe continue coddling Azerbaijan by making gas and oil deals, Armenia and Artsakh have been completely abandoned, suffocating between the trenches of Turkish and Azeri war crimes. Since September 2023, over one hundred thousand Armenians have been forced into refugee status once again.

Aside from all of Azerbaijan’s histrionics, which is a classic case of colonial projection, the most critical aspect to comprehend is the constant genocidal language that the international community ignores. Turkish and Azeri media constantly spew genocidal rhetoric. The most popular is the continuous denial of the Armenian genocide and yet threatening to do it again.

Azeri officials, and even the Azeri president Ilham Aliyev, constantly spew racist and [CONTENT WARNING FOR FOLLOWING LINK] dehumanizing language, calling Armenians “animals,” “terrorists,” and “beasts.”

To understand the region, one must look beyond the relentless propaganda that Turkey and Azerbaijan have spent millions on to victimize themselves. We’ve seen these warped Azeri claims on replay over and over again. Azerbaijan grasps at straws using any talking point they can think of to argue that Armenians have no ties or relation to Artsakh. This propaganda represents an insidious tactic used to demonize Armenians and to blind the world into thinking this is a “complex conflict,” masking the twisted truth: genocide, ethnic cleansing, and Pan-Turkism, a supremacist and fascist ideology that would see an Imperialistic Turkic nation and the total annihilation of the Armenian people.

Victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turkish forces. Photo by Henry Morgenthau

One of the most disturbing and psychologically distressing tactics of Azerbaijan’s ethnic genocide is the systematic desecration of Armenian graveyards. Anahit knows far too well of this psychological torture. A video had just been released the day before in the city of Stepanakert, revealing footage of a decimated Armenian graveyard. The image of this should disturb anyone, but for Artsakhcis like Anahit, the footage is not only far too jarring but too close to home, “My own grandfather’s grave is in Stepanakert,” the fear and profound numbness of the unpredictability of generational genocide have left Artsakhcis in a state of constant stress. Anahit then began to share her grandfather’s legacy and the beauty of the Artsakhci personality, one that is enamored with nature and an undying love for their homeland,

“He was an Artsakh Armenian through and through. I think a lot of Armenians can agree that Artsakh Armenians have this personality that you can see from a mile away; my grandfather was definitely like that.”

Why doesn’t the US even bat an eye when it comes to this barbaric genocide? Just a couple of years ago, in 2021, the US recognized the Armenian genocide, 106 years after its execution, seemingly used as a tactic to further anger Turkey. It is pretty apparent to many Armenians that Biden’s decision to recognize the genocide was disguised as false support and instead represented a calculated move to ruffle the feathers of their NATO ally.

Anahit says, “It’s always been a conversation in our community that whenever we go on the march to commemorate the genocide every April 24th, there are hundreds of thousands of Armenians, but maybe like 2 percent of the crowd will be non-Armenian,” she further elaborated on Turkey’s mission of institutionalizing their propaganda, “I’m sure it is a combination of things including the culture and legacy of genocide denial that Turkey has perpetuated, they’ve spent millions and millions on propaganda and pressuring foreign governments and education.”

She then brought attention to America’s collaboration, “As for America, I think it’s a nation that greatly benefits from stoking conflicts, wars, genocide, I mean, that is a complete given; there were many reports on the U.S. army using the region for classroom training scenarios, and that’s not even mentioning all the economic and other ties America has with Turkey and Azerbaijan.” Armenians are expected to be killed silently. America’s complicity in wars and genocides across the world shouldn’t be a surprise, judging from its history.

“Since 1915, the world has betrayed us,” Anahit’s words should awaken anyone, “I know that it’s something that I and probably every Armenian around the world has asked themselves hundreds of times, since 2020 and even before then.” In 2020, Azerbaijan launched a 44-day genocidal campaign against Artsakh, which resulted in the mass slaughter of over 5,000 Armenians.

Israeli arms suppliers, Turkish allegiance, Syrian mercenaries from the FSA, and American silence propped up this campaign. Anna, an Armenian who received her master’s degree in Russian studies at CU Boulder, highlighted the need for more cooperation from the international community. When asked about the lack of US support, Anna illuminated what most Armenians feel: confusion and helplessness, “You know, it’s a really tough question to answer.” With the lack of US support and Russia playing both sides, the Armenian people are on their own to fight for their freedom and their rights and to change the narrative that Azerbaijan has worked so hard to distort.

Aram, an Armenian student of International relations at the University of Denver, said, “In the end, this came down to the fact that the community decided that perceived energy security from Azerbaijan outweighed that of Armenian lives; they understood that Azerbaijani oil … going to Europe is more important than Armenian lives.” It is an ugly truth. Armenians have been put on the back burner and ignored for selfish political interests.

Russia is known for its shady history of helping both Armenia and Azerbaijan while also posing as the mediator in the region through the use of Russian peacemakers. But since the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, Russia has abandoned Armenia. I asked Anna her thoughts regarding Russia’s lack of interference, “In February 2024, it will be 2 years since Russia and Ukraine are at war; it is a really good time for Azerbaijan to start again as they did in 2020,” Anna said, “Our peacekeepers are really busy helping out with the war in Ukraine.”

I asked Aram the same question; Aram said, “Russian firms have their own stakes in Azerbaijani gas companies and their oil operations,” which would make sense as to why Russia continues to play both sides and may choose to sit this one out, casually allowing a genocidal regime to lay claim to indigenous Armenian land.

Azerbaijan relies on bizarre conspiracy theories designed to morph narratives that Armenians not only lack roots in Artsakh but that their ancient sites aren’t theirs to begin with. This is a classic colonial talking point. Azerbaijan has gone as far as claiming that Armenians rub vinegar, yes vinegar, over their graveyards and ancient sites as a deceiving action of making them “look older” or “more ancient.”

We’ve heard these twisted narratives before, used to undermine indigenous people who are being eradicated. The Armenian genocide was executed swiftly, involving multiple complicit nations The world let it happen then and has let it continue with Artsakh. Aram said, “In terms of fighting, nobody wants to go to war except the Azerbaijanis. We Armenians, you know, we were preparing for peace for these past 30 years. We were open to free and fair negotiations. Still, the question is that the Azerbaijanis knew that if there were a peace process if there were free and fair elections for self-determination, it would obviously end up in the Armenian favor because Nagorno-Gharabagh or Artsakh, has been inhabited by majority Armenians for 3,500 years.”

Armenian cultural sites dot the landscape, yet some are being erased entirely. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

While I spoke with Anna and Aram, what was buzzing in my head was this hope of return for Artsakhcis. Asked if there was any chance to get their land back, “I don’t think it’s possible,” Anna said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t change the past; it happened already, and it’s not safe to go back. And even if there were a possibility, no one would like to go back because there is no point; you can get attacked any minute,” these words are devastating and illuminate the international world’s complicity when it comes to the theft of Artsakh.

Although Anahit’s grandfather is greatly missed, she said the devastation that has erupted would have significantly impacted him, “I think of my grandfather all the time, and I always think, I wonder what he would say if he was alive right now, I wonder what he would think, and I miss him so much but I also think to myself I am glad he is not alive to witness all this because it would have absolutely destroyed him.” 

Since September of 2023, Artsakhcis have continued to mourn the loss of their homeland. The traumatic effects of genocide remain, and an aching hope for return now lingers. Artsakh will continue to live on throughout the hearts of Armenians worldwide. I feel the biggest shame is how we have failed the Armenian people entirely once again. Like clockwork, the world moves on, completely overlooking an over-century-old documented genocide of one of the most ancient people ever to exist.

Asbarez: Russia Detains, then Releases, Azerbaijani National Wanted by Armenia for War Crimes

Tamil Zeynalli is wanted by Armenia

Russia authorities briefly detained an Azerbaijani national who is wanted by Armenia on war crimes charges and later released him at the request of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Moscow.

Armenia’s security authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Tamil Zeynalli, who was detained at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport as he was boarding a flight to Baku.

Armenia’s Interior Ministry spokesperson, Narek Sargsyan, confirmed to media that Zeynalli is wanted by Armenia on murder charges, but refrained to give more information, telling Armenpress that he was not aware of the suspect’s detention in Moscow.

Zeynalli’s attorney, Alekber Garayev, told Azerbaijani media that his client is wanted in Armenia on charges of aggression, war crimes and being a mercenary.

Zeynalli, who is apparently a former member of the Azerbaijani military and has received medals of honor from his government, claims to be a blogger and a fitness trainer.

While he is scheduled to appear in a Moscow court on Thursday, his attorney told Azerbaijani media that Zeynalli was on his way back to Baku and thanked Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Moscow for its efforts to secure his client’s release.

The charges are believed to stem from the execution of two men from Artsakh captured by Azerbaijani troops in October 2020. A video posted by Azerbaijani social media users at the time showed Azerbaijani-speaking soldiers shooting and killing them, reported on Wednesday.

The victims wore Artsakh Army uniforms and were bound and draped in Armenian flags during the execution. Armenian prosecutors identified them as residents of Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district occupied by the Azerbaijani army during the six-week war.

In a detailed 2020 analysis published by the investigative website Bellingcat, a retired British army officer and open source expert suggested that “these two men were indeed Armenian combatants who were captured between October 9 and October 15 by Azerbaijani soldiers, possibly special forces, and likely executed a short time later.” Bellingcat denied Baku’s claims that the video is fake.

Azerbaijani forces were also accused of committing other war crimes. In December 2020, Britain’s The Guardian examined gruesome videos that show men in Azerbaijani army uniforms beheading two elderly civilians recognized by their Karabakh Armenian relatives and neighbors.

“The ethnic Armenian men were non-combatants, people in their respective villages said,” wrote the paper.

Azeri military ceases gunfire targeting Syunik post

 10:21, 13 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 13, ARMENPRESS. The Azeri shooting targeting an Armenian position in Syunik stopped as of 09:30, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

“As of 9:30 a.m., the firing by Azerbaijani armed forces on Armenian combat positions in the vicinity of Nerkin Hand (Syunik Province) has ceased.
“The Ministry of Defence urges partner media outlets not to disseminate unverified information, to refrain from referencing individuals with insufficient and inaccurate frontline information, and to rely on official reports from the MoD.
“The Ministry of Defence will issue additional official statements regarding Armenian casualties and the health condition of the wounded,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

According to preliminary reports, 2 Armenian soldiers were killed and others were wounded in the Azeri shooting targeting a military position in Syunik province.

PM discusses issues related to cooperation in the field of digitalization with vice presidents of Amazon Web Services


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met Michael Punke and Max Peterson, vice presidents of Amazon Web Services, in Munich.

Issues related to the cooperation between the Armenian Government and Amazon Web Services, implementation of joint programs were discussed, the PM's office said.

It is noted that the representatives of the company emphasized their willingness to develop and further strengthen the cooperation with Armenia and added that they are in the stage of discussions and dialogue with the Ministry of High-tech Industry.

In particular, during the meeting, reference was made to the implementation of programs in the field of digitization and the future joint works planned in this direction.

According to the source, Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized that digitization works are among the priorities of the Armenian government and emphasized the importance of close cooperation in this direction.

Prime Minister Pashinyan also participated in "Digital trust and government continuity. Cloud computing in the era of shifting geopolitics” round table discussion, which was held behind closed doors. The event was organized by Amazon Web Services and the Munich Security Conference.

Armenia: A Rising Economic Powerhouse

Feb 9 2024
Momen Zellmi

In a world where economic fluctuations have become the norm, Armenia stands as a beacon of stability and growth. According to Renaissance Capital analysts, the country is projected to maintain a robust economic growth rate of 6.5% year-on-year in 2024, following an impressive 8.1% expansion in 2023.

This growth places Armenia among the top performers in the CIS+ region, with steady external inflows, particularly from Russia, and robust domestic activity driving its economic engine. The country's economic performance in 2023 was marked by a significant 9.4% year-on-year increase in economic activity across major industries.

The construction and service sectors have been the cornerstones of Armenia's economic resurgence. In 2023, the construction sector expanded by a staggering 14.8%, while trade and other services grew by 25.7% and 10.3%, respectively.

The relocation of individuals and companies from Russia to Armenia, coupled with the reorientation of financial and trade flows, has contributed significantly to this economic surge. This influx of human and financial capital has not only stimulated economic activity but also diversified Armenia's economic landscape.

Armenia's trade sector has experienced a remarkable transformation in recent years. In 2023, exports and imports saw dramatic increases, with exports up by 55% and imports by 40% year-on-year.

Remittances from Russia, which had doubled in 2021, remained high by mid-2023, although they did not reach the previous year's peak levels. These remittances have played a crucial role in supporting Armenia's economy, providing a stable source of foreign exchange and boosting consumer spending.

Forecasts for Armenia's economic growth in 2024 vary, reflecting the complexity of the global economic landscape. The Armenian government predicts a 7% growth, while the Central Bank expects a slightly more conservative 6.1% expansion.

The IMF forecasts a 5% growth, and Fitch Ratings anticipates a 6% growth in 2024 and a 4.9% growth in 2025. Despite these variations, one thing is clear: Armenia's economic growth story is far from over.

As the world watches with bated breath, Armenia continues to carve its niche as an economic powerhouse, defying odds and redefining possibilities. Its journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience, innovation, and strategic foresight in the face of economic uncertainty.

Violinist Nikolay Madoyan’s album among Naxos bestsellers

Panorama, Armenia
Feb 5 2024

Renowned German-Armenian violinist Nikolay Madoyan's album Armenian Brilliance has made it to the top twenty best-selling Naxos albums and has received high praise from critics, including the BBC and Pizzicato music magazines, his team told on Monday.

The album was released by Naxos Records in October 2023. It was recorded with pianist Armine Grigoryan.

Armenian Brilliance features 15 delightful Armenian works for violin and piano.

‘Armenia must be able to defend its sovereignty and people,’ French Ambassador at Army Day


YEREVAN, JANUARY 29, ARMENPRESS. French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies on January 28 attended the Army Day celebration in Armenia.

“I was honored to attend the celebration dedicated to Army Day together with the defense attache. Armenia must be able to defend its sovereignty and its people,” the French Ambassador said in a post on X.  He added that France is enhancing its defense relations with Armenia and forming strategic ties.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan issues objectives to Foreign Intelligence Service


YEREVAN, JANUARY 29, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has held a meeting with the leadership and officers of the Foreign Intelligence Service.

During the meeting the Prime Minister was briefed on the course of the establishment of the agency and the 2024 action plan.

“Views were exchanged on addressing modern challenges, as well as the objectives of the Foreign Intelligence Service in the development of the state. The Prime Minister issued concrete objectives and directives to the service,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a readout.