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In "Avetik," Berlin-based Armenian auteur Don Askarian takes a tough stand against traditional narrative conven­tional using dreamlike recol­lections and poetic visions to conjure a disquieting portrait of his afflicted homeland and its disappearing culture. Ar­resting visuals and a formida­ble overlying mood make this a commanding festival entry.

Around the central figure of an Armenian forging an alienat­ed existence in the West, Askarian lays a mosaic of impressions of his country's history and people, from bygone kings to 1989 earth­quake victims. Ruminations of love, death, childhood, sexual awakening and the corruption of film as an art form surface along with some bitter observations on being a foreigner in Germany.

Dialogue is oblique and sparse, and use of the brief stretch­es of classical and Armenian folk music is only slightly less so, Askarian instead constructs a film poem out of loosely connected lyrical passages - visionary trailblazing.

Superior artistry and technical craftsmanship are consistently on view.

Still, Askarian's uncom­promising views on audience-pandering commercial cinema surface repeatedly. His artistic in­tegrity in sticking to his guns command respect, and stand to stoke the international rep he carved out with his first feature, "Komitas."

David Rooney


19-25. 09. 1994