11th Annual Pomegranate Film Festival Promises Spectacular Line-up

By Roubina Shnorhokian

Ela Alyamac and Aren Perdeci's Lost Birds is the first movie produced in Turky on the Armenian Genocide.

Ela Alyamac and Aren Perdeci’s Lost Birds is the first movie produced in Turky on the Armenian Genocide.

Hamazkayin’s 11th annual world renowned Pomegranate Film Festival will take place on November 17-20th, 2016, promising to deliver a spectacular array of films and a unique gala soirée. This year marks an unprecedented level of creative collaboration among artists and the recognition of films where families cope with the effects of war. Over 35 films have been selected from both experienced and new filmmakers.

The festival will begin at Silver City Fairview Mall on Thursday, November 17th. Filmmakers Ela Alyamac and Aren Perdeci of Istanbul will present their much anticipated fairytale, Lost Birds which has won several awards on the Film festival circuit. The film will be screened at 7pm to begin the 2016 festival. Lost Birds is the first feature made in Turkey about the Genocide, told through the lens of children and appropriate for audiences of all ages.


Patrick Chesnais and Arsinee Khanjian star in Lost in Armenia. Photo: Arthur Arzoyan

Patrick Chesnais and Arsinee Khanjian star in Lost in Armenia. Photo: Arthur Arzoyan

Actress Arsinee Khanjian stars in Serge Avedikian’s latest feature, Lost In Armenia, at 9pm. The feature is a funny and refreshing film that does justice to the men and women who protect Armenia’s borders.  Both Khanjian and Paris-based Avedikian will be in attendance for this premiere, which boasts a cast that includes award-winning French actor Patrick Chesnais. Aside from being a talented actor, Avedikian has developed into a remarkable director. His previous feature, Paradjanov, and short film, Barking Island, have been praised by film critics internationally-the latter receiving the prestigious award for best short at the Cannes Film Festival.

The impact of childhood memories will be explored in a couple of films about World War II, including Hamshen director Ozcan Alper’s Memories Of The Wind, about an Armenian intellectual who is forced to leave Istanbul during WWII. Meg Ryan directs and acts alongside Tom Hanks in the epic film, Ithaca, based on the work of playwright William Saroyan. Ithaca is a coming of age story about a young mail courier during the second World War. The festival’s 2016 schedule also includes promising new director Anna Arshavetyan’s Good Morning, a heartfelt look into a man’s recollection of the significant events affecting the first quarter century of independence for the new republic of Armenia. The latter won best feature at the Armenian Panorama competition this summer at the Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan.

Well-known artists, Vahe Berberian and Vahik Pirhamzei, will present their new release, 3 Weeks In Yerevan. The film will take viewers on an unpredictable journey throughout Armenia as our heroes focus on the absurd challenges that arise during their ambitious journey to film a movie in their homeland. Both comedians Berberian and Pirhamzei will be in attendance for the Canadian premiere at this year’s POM gala soiree for a live performance following the screening at the Hamazkayin Theatre on Saturday, November 9th, with cocktails commencing at 7pm.

Atom Egoyan will be in attendance for a special screening of his latest film, Remember, at Toronto’s historic Regent Theatre on Friday, November 18th at 7pm, during the Festival’s Oscar Night. Egoyan delivers a unique, thrilling tale of a Holocaust survivor grappling with memory loss and his pursuit of his family’s alleged killer. Oscar winner Christopher Plummer plays the leading role. Egoyan and Plummer previously joined forces in Ararat, which served as a pioneering work to create a path for more recent films about the Genocide, including The Cut and The Promise. Plummer’s performance is a perfect match with Egoyan’s gifted storytelling. Friday night at the Regent will continue with a one-of-a-kind presentation of the 2016 motion picture of the year film, Spotlight, based on the real life work of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Steve Kurkjian and revered attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Both men hope to join Toronto’s favourite roving reporter Arda Zakarian for an unprecedented panel following the screening.

In addition to the anticipated feature films, veteran documentary filmmakers, Bared Maronian and Nigol Bezjian, will present their illuminating films. Multiple Emmy-award winner Maronian will present the Canadian premiere of Women of 1915, featuring a magical soundtrack by Hooshere. The film looks into the integral role women played during and after the Genocide, while Bezjian tells the fascinating story of the Melkonian Institute in Cyprus. Well-known actor and recording artist Aram MP3 stars in gifted director Hrant Yeritskinyan’s Head Of State, a comedy about a quirky journalist who seeks to be elected President of the fledging republic of Armenia. Yeritskinyan will be in attendance for the North American premiere of this clever and poignant film which will close out the 2016 Festival.

POM will also present several films by local Canadian filmmakers including the works of Ara Sagherian, Kalen Artinian, Garine Tcholakian, Martin Melkoumian, Jamie Day Fleck, Anna Maria Mouradian, Tatevik Galestyan and Armen Poladian.