Don Askarian – Komitas (1989)

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The film is dedicated to the Armenian monk and genius composer Komitas, and the 2 million victims on his people in Turkey in 1915. The final 20 years of Komitas life were spent in various mental hospitals. The destiny of Komitas? This is the magic beauty of Armenian culture and the abhorrent brutality of Armenian history. A cultural and artistic world that was slaughtered with a curved knife. A humanity that doggedly advances towards an apocalyptic catastrophe, that does not recognize its own original purpose, eradicates its own memory, its final roots. Continue reading

Don Askarian – Avetik (1992)

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“Avetik” is very much in tradition of the cinema of dreams. A gorgeous and mesmerizing film, “Avetik” both thrills the eye and boggles the mind. It takes you on a journey of the mind that leads to heaven or hell – a succulent garden full of bare-breasted goddesses or a frozen step of devastation and death”. “Askarian is capable of producing images that are unlike anything ever seen before, yet hit you with a primal immediacy”.Hovering between the realms of poetry and history, this stunningly photographed, elegiac work-hot mostly in long takes-mixes cryptic metaphor and fantastic symbolism to tell the story of Avetik, an Armenian filmmaker exiled in Berlin. Director Askarian employs dreamlike images-a crumbling, ancient stone chapel gradually reduced to nothing by the rumbling vibrations of passing military vehicles; a ghostly cemetery of carved tombstones in which a woman takes a starving sheep in her arm and breast-feeds it back to life-to reflect the history of his homeland and shades of his own exile in Germany. In sensuous, lyric tableaux, Askarian explores German racism, the 1915 Armenian genocide, the disastrous earthquake of 1989, tranquil childhood memories, and images inspired by erotic medieval poetry. Continue reading