The 11th Annual Pomegranate Film Festival Celebrates Unprecedented Creative Collaboration and Talent from Around the World
The Pomegranate Film Festival (POM) is delighted to announce its final 2016 schedule, to be held from November 16-20th in Toronto. POM XI will present thirty-eight films from fourteen countries around the world, showcasing different film genres and a range of Canadian talent. It is a unique year at the Festival for unprecedented creative collaboration and films that deal with the trauma of war, dealing with WWI, WWII and the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The Festival will also celebrate the talents and influence of Armenian writers and journalists such as William Saroyan and Stephen Kurkjian of The Boston Globe.
The Festival’s 11th annual event will commence with a special screening of EARTHQUAKE at SilverCity Fairview Cineplex (1800 Sheppard Ave. E.) Directed by Sarik Andreasyan (AMERICAN HEIST) and produced by Ruben Dishdishyan (THE CUT, MERMAID), this dramatic feature brings to life the catastrophic earthquake of 1988 centred in the town of Spitak, near the city of Gyumri (formerly known as Leninakan during the Soviet era). It has been nominated as Armenia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars.
Atom Egoyan’s powerful REMEMBER will also be screened on Opening Night Wednesday, November 16th at Fairview. Starring Christopher Plummer in an unforgettable role, the captivating thriller involves a dementia-suffering Holocaust survivor who seeks vengeance against the Nazi war criminal responsible for murdering his family. The film was awarded Best Original Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards. Egoyan will be present to conduct an interactive Q&A with the audience following the screening, as well as to present a new short film titled, ACTS OF CONSCIENCE, commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Human Rights where he plays the role of the narrator.
Features, LOST BIRDS and ALL THAT JAM, will be screened on Thursday, November 17th, also at SilverCity Fairview Mall. LOST BIRDS, co-directed by Ela Alyamac and Aren Perdeci, tells the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide through the eyes of a young brother and sister. This film is a groundbreaking film in Turkey as it came to fruition from the collaboration of emerging Turkish and Armenian filmmakers. A historical fairytale set in the backdrop of WWI, the film was shot in scenic Capadoccia and is the first feature film made in Turkey about the tragic Genocide.
It will be followed by the light-hearted romantic comedy ALL THAT JAM, directed by former Muscovite Alexander Andranikian, who is now plying his trade in New York City. Andranikian, as well as the Turkish filmmakers of LOST BIRDS, Aren Pederci and Ela Alyamec, will be in attendance in order to conduct Q&A sessions with the audience.
On Friday, November 18th, the Festival shifts gears and moves south to the Regent Theatre (551 Mt. Pleasant Rd) where French director, Serge Avedikian, will present his latest feature, LOST IN ARMENIA. Avedikian is a Cannes award-winning filmmaker and actor whose previous work has explored the life of the brilliant Soviet artist Sergei Paradjanov. The film stars the multi-talented Canadian actress, Arsinée Khanjian, and Cesar-winning French actor, Patrick Chesnais. It involves a French comedian who finds himself stranded in a remote Armenian village by the Azerbaijan border and unexpectedly becomes the local town hero. Avedikian and Khanjian will both be attendance to discuss their latest project following this Canadian Premiere.
The Academy-award winning film, SPOTLIGHT, by director Tom McCarthy, will follow at the Regent. A powerful true story about the courage and dedication of a group of Boston Globe journalists who exposed the massive child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic archdiocese. Three-time Pulitzer-prize winning author and former Boston Globe journalist, Stephen Kurkjian, will be in attendance for this special screening and will be interviewed by popular Toronto reporter Arda Zakarian following the film presentation.
Ozcan Alper’s, MEMORIES OF THE WIND, will start Saturday’s film program at the Hamazkayin Theatre (50 Hallcrown Place). Alper comes from a Hamshen background, a group of people living in Turkey who are Armenian in origin and many of whom have converted to Islam. Set in the backdrop of World War II, an Armenian intellectual has to flee Istanbul because of the government’s increasing infringements on the rights of its minorities. He escapes to the Black Sea region, where his childhood memories surface and shape the direction of his future. Talented Greek cinematographer, Andreas Sinanos, captures the breathtaking beauty of the region. The film was also selected as part of the prestigious Filmfest Hamburg.
A unique documentary from Armenia, ONE, TWO, THREE, by Arman Yeritsyan, will follow on Saturday, November 19th, revealing the lives of lonely seniors and their immersion in art and dance as a way of combating isolation and ageism. It is an empowering film that applauds optimism and encourages all ages. A series of short films, as part of the Festival’s annual SYMPHONY OF FILM, also on Saturday afternoon, will showcase the talents of emerging Canadian filmmakers, including Kalen Artinian whose latest film, THE INDESTRUCTIBLE, was chosen as part of the Shorts Corner at Cannes. Syrian-born and now Montreal-based filmmaker Anna Maria Mouradian will also present her two latest shorts, one of which explores the impact that the war in Syria has on children who have witnessed the horrors.
The festive gala soirée will take place on Saturday, November 19th, featuring the Canadian Premiere of THREE WEEKS IN YEREVAN, by the multi-talented Los Angeles based artists, Vahe Berberian and Vahik Pirhamzei. The latter is particularly popular within both Toronto’s Armenian and Iranian communities. The gala selection is an enjoyable ‘road trip’ movie highlighting the absurdities that arise in the making of a feature film in the capital of Armenia.
The final day of POM XI will start with Meg Ryan’s ITHACA, which is based on the work of William Saroyan. It is a nostalgic look into the life of a young telegraph messenger who is the only one working in his town to deliver letters during WWII, as most of the men are at war. The film stars Ryan’s son, Jack Quaid, as well as, Tom Hanks and Sam Shepard.
Two riveting documentaries will follow. Emmy-award winner, Bared Maronian will present, WOMEN OF 1915, exploring the integral role of women during and after the Armenian Genocide. The film has been currently nominated for a regional Emmy. Lebanese-Armenian director Nigol Bezjian will follow up with his latest film, TEMPLE OF LIGHT, about the controversial closure of the historic Armenian Educational facility known as the Melkonian Institute in Cyprus.
Sunday evening’s features include French-Armenian director Levon Minasian’s BRAVO VIRTUOSO, a black comedy about a symphony musician who gets caught up in a world of crime. Anna Arshavetyan’s feature, GOOD MORNING, is a poignant drama about the impact of a young father’s memories of Armenia in the ’90s and the future of his family, chronicling the first quarter century of post Soviet life in the independent republic.
The 2016 film festival finale film promises to be a crowd pleaser. HEAD of STATE, by Hrant Yeritskinyan, is a light-hearted comedy from Armenia about a disgruntled journalist who, finds himself running for Presidency of his country. This North American Premiere rounds out this year’s selection of films, and includes a Q&A with director Yeritskinyan.
As always, the festival’s final screening will be followed by the Festival’s annual Audience Choice and Jury Awards. Silva Basmajian, retired producer of the National Film Board of Canada, will be returning to head jury that will also include actress Lara Arabian and filmmaker Hagop Goudsouzian.
For more information, please visit pomfilmfest.com or contact:
Ms. Araz Hasserjian