In Amerikatsi, it’s 1947, and an Armenian-American repatriates to Armenia solely to finish up in a Soviet jail. Hopeless and alone, he discovers he can see into a close-by house from his cell window, the place a local Armenian man, unaware that he’s being watched, slowly reveals the soul of Armenia hidden behind the iron curtain.
We spoke with Amerikatsi author/director/star Michael Goorjian about making a contemporary Armenian story, the resurgence of Armenian tales, and capturing throughout COVID in Armenia.
Inform me concerning the historical past main as much as the making Amerikatsi.
Again within the 90s, I used to be lucky sufficient to behave in quite a lot of nice impartial movies — Leaving Las Vegas, SLC Punk, and the Invisibles. It was form of a golden age of indie cinema within the U.S. There have been much more dangers being taken again then. Not each movie needed to be spinoff—primarily based on some prior work, and never each script needed to “tackle” a present social or political challenge. Good tales bought financed for being good tales. So in early 2018, after spending the previous decade struggling to get numerous “good tales” financed within the U.S., as an alternative of getting bitter and giving up, I bought extra thrifty and thought – “why not attempt making a overseas movie?”
“The sense of hopefulness within the nation was unimaginable to observe on-line, and as an Armenian, I discovered myself longing to be there…”
On the time, Armenia, a post-Soviet nation battling corruption, had simply gone by a “velvet revolution.” The sense of hopefulness within the nation was unimaginable to observe on-line, and as an Armenian, I discovered myself longing to be there— to return to the “homeland.” Two years later, in January 2020, I discovered myself on an 18-hour flight to Armenia to begin capturing Amerikatsi.
Regardless of the various challenges concerned in making a movie like this — a interval piece in three languages, shot in Armenia throughout a pandemic! — regardless of all that and extra, Amerikatsi is by far essentially the most significant inventive challenge I’ve labored on thus far.
Inform me concerning the story of your lead character, Charlie. Was he an actual particular person?
Charlie isn’t primarily based on anybody particularly. As an alternative, there are various real-life particulars woven into the character, together with some particulars associated to grandfather, who had escaped the Armenian Genocide as a. Overallverall, Charlie is purposefully fictional. Actually, I’d say that Charlie is the form of character that has been lacking from cinema just lately — a ‘Holy Idiot.’ A bit like Chancey Gardner from Being There, Charlie is a reminder that humanity will at all times exist regardless of how absurd the world has turn out to be. As an actor, I’d say that Charlie is by far crucial function I’ve ever performed. If I’m remembered for something, I’d be more than pleased handy my identify on this one.
Solely just lately have I seen documentaries and movies about Armenia and the Armenian Genocide. Why do you suppose it’s taken till now to get the tales out into the open?
You’re proper, there haven’t been many movies associated to Armenia over time, and the few which have seen the sunshine of day have, for essentially the most half, been concerning the Armenian Genocide. For me, I wished to make an Armenian movie that had an opportunity at crossing over, which is why Amerikatsi is, at its core, a quite simple human story. Sure, it takes place in Armenia, and characters are talking in Armenian, and also you’re uncovered to Armenian music, tradition, and historical past. However that’s all secondary to the actual story, which is a few prisoner who can see from his cell window into an house constructing the place one other man lives. It’s a easy fable that would actually virtually happen wherever.
Are you able to discuss your expertise filming Amerikatsi and your crew that helped you deliver it to life?
Moreover myself, my cinematographer, and our first A.C., our whole crew was from Armenia. Nearly all of the solid was additionally native Armenians, with just a few actors coming in from Russia and Spain. And regardless of the various challenges we confronted, it was essentially the most rewarding expertise capturing a movie I’ve ever had. You’ll be able to really feel how a lot love was put into the movie by everybody concerned. Everybody’s fingerprints are there. There was a way of inventive freedom that’s laborious to seek out in locations the place filmmaking has turn out to be over-institutionalized.
“…you’re uncovered to Armenian music, tradition, and historical past. However that’s all secondary to the actual story…”
What had been the challenges in bringing Amerikatsi to the large display?
We began principal pictures in March 2020. Per week into capturing, we had been compelled to close down as a result of pandemic. Our actors from Russia and Spain needed to fly residence. Everybody was in lockdown, and we didn’t actually know if we’d ever get to complete the movie. Not solely that, due to the journey ban, I used to be separated from my spouse and son, who had been on the other facet of the globe in San Francisco. After three months, we had been lastly allowed to proceed capturing, however only a few scenes that may very well be performed with a really restricted solid and crew. Arriving on set that day, everybody was simply so completely happy. To get to see different folks — however extra importantly, to get to work once more. I’ll always remember that day. Over the subsequent three months, we slowly pecked away on the shoot, finally getting our actors again into the nation and finishing all the things. After all, then a battle with Azerbaijan broke out, however that’s an entire nother story.
What had been a number of the themes you wished to deal with in Amerikatsi?
There are lots of themes within the movie associated to connecting with one’s roots, identification, and many others. However I believe crucial theme to me has to do with voyeurism. A lot of the movie is about one character who’s in jail watching one other character who’s free, at the least technically talking.
What’s your favourite scene within the film?
My favourite scene within the movie must be when Charlie is at his cell window watching Tigran within the house, attempting to win again his spouse. There’s a level when issues aren’t going so properly for Tigran, after which instantly, he remembers that he’s being watched, and slowly he appears as much as Charlie throughout the way in which in his jail. After all, I’m biased, however for me, at the least, it’s a actually iconic second.
The place is Amerikatsi obtainable for our readers to see it?
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