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'Avetik' is an inspired look at the Armenian genocide

by Desmond Ryan
Inquirer movie critics

In the Inspired and deeply tragic vision of Don Askarian, the agonizing fate of the Armenian people In this century can be presented as a paradox: Things of beauty become images of something that will be a sorrow forever.

In Avetik and Komitas, to be screened at the festival on Saturday, the Armenian director views the systematic genocide that claimed two million lives between 1915 and 1920 from slightly different perspectives but with the same general method. Disdaining linear narrative and even obvious connections between individual scenes, Askarian constructs contrasts of the ordinary and the grotesque, the natural and the abominable. Experiencing his highly original conceptions is more like watching a painter and a poet at work than a director.

In Avetik, the sensuous, often lyric imagery is interrupted by rumination a catastrophe that still resonates after six decades and the guilt of the survivors.

'Nagorny Karabakh': Depicting dirty truth of 'ethnic cleansing'

By Desmond Ryan
Inquirer movie critics

 Nagorny Karabakh: The Third and Fourth Volume of the Armenian History, a documentary about the suffering of the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan, is the most straightforward of the three films in the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema by director Don Askarian.

Askarian, an Armenian who lives in exile in Berlin, prefers to work with powerful and lyric images rather than narrative. Here, he has assembled smuggled video footage that recounts torture, rape and murder.

"Ethnic cleansing," that appalling entry into the political vocabulary of the ‘90s, is here depicted in flesh and blood - with the emphasis on the latter. The conflict may seem parochial and remote, but the testimony in Nagorny Karabakh reflects pain that is being felt in many parts of the world.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  
Thursday, April 8, 1993

"There's the North American premiere of Avetik, from Don Askarian - a brilliant Armenian filmmaker. He's an incredibly accomplished cinematic voice."

By Steven Rea

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Friday, May 7, 1993