.

Films - Ararat- Fourteen Views Director's Intentions        Credits         Script       

Technical data:
F
iction & documentary, length -76 min, color & b. & w, HDV, Frame Size 720 X 1280(16:9), Fields - Progressive Scan, Display Format: 25pps, PAL

Language: Armenian/ Russian.
Prints with English and German subtitles.

Sale and distribution 
by Don Film
e-mail:
donfilm@netsys.am

 

SYNOPSIS

It's no matter for it - who walks on it - the Turk, the Armenian, the Kurd or a camel, and about state boarder it doesn't think at all. The relations to it have mineralogists, well, volcanologists, but the speech is not about: gang of robbers kills numismatists under the canopy of sacred mountain Ararat and Phil, their victim, casually survives.

If the film is there, it is not because it has been defined by the audience, not by the producer/director, not by ratings, not in Cannes or in LA, no, it is realised through the film itself, in the context of the film, by every film, every film that has already been made and by every film that's going to be made in the future, because there is a constant dialogue going on between all films, including those as yet unmade. To recognize this deep secret reality and law of film, and to obey, yes, even to serve them - that is what I call Ontological Film Making.

(Don Askarian)

DIRECTOR’S INTENTIONS

The importance of this project is measured by life of its author, director and producer: he is in the same situation as his main character, and he could be killed too. Life is normally more important than a career. Films are very important too - here the career could kill, or save lives.

Look, see what I produce, someone has to say it somewhere, so that it won’t disappear; if I am killed or chased down, then you should realise, that’s exactly why I’m doing it. The article is still writing itself, I haven’t finished it, I’m sitting here in the middle of KGB country, my name and my life are already into the third decade in their blacklists, and now they’ve begun shooting people again, in groups – ten, a hundred, at a time… you can’t miss it, but it’s not on the scale of the former empire where they would shoot thousands.
 

Don Askarian 17.12.2006


           


Perhaps it’s a nightmare that is spreading, perhaps it’s the truth that’s murmuring; time will tell: during the last few weeks I’ve been getting feelings that are not particularly pleasant…the feeling that my murder is being planned; discussed, or they’ve already reached the implementation stage. Who knows?
Two nights – most recently last night – I could feel it with my skin.
It seems to me that I have to start by taking steps to defend my life and my property, of which the main part are my films. Would the publication of this article help to defend me? More likely it would give the murderers a old/new fit against me. Even the rottenest prison officer will confirm that I am the last free human in this republic, which is why I shall publish these lines whatever happens. It must be somewhere where they won’t just disappear without trace. So that the knife stabs deeply. Is there a Russian NYT?
Legally, they are the co-authors of this article - in any case, without them it would have developed as it has.
***
Long live number, the number revolution! – the only one, which is accepted without any provisos: each arsehole and every cur can call themselves a film director today - and quite right, too, very right indeed: because in the final analysis what we still don’t actually know is: who’s the arsehole, who’s the idiot, and who’s the real film director. The history of mankind is mostly the first two, as history//the story and the present of the film convincingly confirm. The money plays a smaller and smaller role – the producer filled right up with the director’s blood and with money; and, laden with the money and the thoughts of the money, brainless producers will blanch, and soon become a skeletal shadow - and perhaps it’s not bad, it could even be to the good; it could mean the film director’s profession, one where only counterfeiters, cheats, and whores can prevail and prosper, changes to one, which if not decent, is at least calmer.
Whether the era of the ponce -producer is drawing to a close? Hardly.

Because the mass production of paper did not improve the quality of literature, it only increased the number of compulsive writers, which would have been a good thing if it meant the number of readers increased – but the truth is that bad writers make still worse readers.

The Russian KGB has transformed the repellent cinematic flat-share of communism, where corpses lay scattered everywhere, and where the executioner organised blood-slathered parties, into a no less disgusting ethnic, nationalistic, racist grotto ruled over by the multi-faced – the state scribes’ little boys – the corpses are no less plentiful, and the bloody party goes on.

What Chinese who work in films are doing, I do not know, neither do I want to know, because I would not learn anything new…but I am, however, sure, they are doing the same as the Russian secret service film department, just covered with a different bloody sauce.

Western film functionaries are calmly washing the shite and the blood off the shoes of the Persian Mullahs and the Chinese functionaries. They are stupid, or for sale - in such context there can be no third definition – however, the combination of both characteristics is a perfect one. Many of them let themselves go – or pretend to - in the folkloristic-ethnographic mash: so, that’s it, the grey, industrial West, a set of soulless multi-storeyed buildings against a background of the sky, and on the other side - a hot penis or cunt in a multicoloured necklace, and…the call of the unwashed shamans, whereby the latter, one supposes, no, for certain, is played by some retired colonel.

In filmic terms the post-Soviet republics are shoved around between the shoulders, the broad square shoulders, of the White Russian Lukashenko (looks like a public hangman) and the fur cap, the stinking fur cap of Turkmen-Bashi (or whoever’s wearing it today.). They even organize festivals, and what did you expect, then, from the former (is it really right that they are still former?) informers and Stasi collaborators - they haven’t forgotten those blessed days, when the Berlinale, as reliable as a rented whore, doled out prizes for KGB mash – to the Soviet films – or to Soviet tanks?

So that you really do understand: an informer, a secret agent, someone who denounces his neighbour, his friend, his brother, his father, his dear mother even, he is someone who has a normal job – those people were there always, everywhere.

It’s not a matter of the job, it’s for whom, and in whose names, they serve – that’s all that matters: the Soviet Union (and communist China) were, in matters of nastiness and criminality, and measured as purveyors of the same, in no way inferior to the Nazi regime; in many ways the Soviet Union even surpassed it – for example, in duration: it existed 60 years longer.

Is it really true, that it exists no longer? Perhaps it is still there?

They have simply crossed out the article of the penal code on foreign exchange transactions, and now let citizens leave the country. Russian national television stations constantly sing the praises of the Stalinist executioners, and for the victims… well, what about the victims? That was their fault, they just got tangled among the wheels of history, just as if they were the wheels of a car.

In Moscow, Solzhenitsin invites Putin round for a cup of tea.

During the period of Soviet power millions of humans beings were destroyed, many millions, dozens of millions, 50, 60, 70 million…to wipe out such crowds of people you need many millions of executioners, butchers. Well, not one of these criminal swine has ever been made to answer their deeds. Not a single one. Please think of that for a moment.

The office is still working. For another moment, imagine the unimaginable: Hitler did not lose the war, the endless row of German butcher-executioners and their cinematic compositional service, all these Hebbels, Hendricks, Riefenstahls, Karajans und Furtwanglers, and this cur (from the film by Istvan Sabo, who was himself involved… in Hungary!) ….For Heaven’s sake! If he was, too, then who wasn’t? Was it an autobiographic film he made, then?.

Imagine that they had not have lost the war, and now they would be travelling around, making their films, being awarded prizes, organising festivals themselves, shaking your hand, kissing your darling cheeks, one to the left, one to the right, having lunch with you, taking some of you to bed…imagine all that and if you are not, as I am, sickened by the thought, that’s because it’s probably not so pleasant to have to do with people with records like that, butchers and murderers – if only for reasons of your own security. But then, you could just make their record still longer!

Opening up the archives - could that rescue the film? They say they nicknamed Tarkovsky “Miss Hissy”; personally, I wouldn’t want to read the dossiers of Sergey Mikhalkov and his brother Andron Konchalovski – everything about then is clear without any reading.

Obviously, it is not particularly pleasant, when a rebel idol - whether with a guitar, a movie camera, or a pen – who has emerged from the stupid youth suddenly pops up in military uniform.

The work of the official-freethinkers achieved the status of KGB waste paper. It became clear, that the free thinking had been ordered and assigned, something that, by definition, has no nominal price – so-la-la , just an another method to make fools of fractious humans before destroying them.

The secret services treat the film with special tenderness: up to now no-one has described the Soviet film landings in the west, when the system suddenly throws Tarkovsky, Ioseliani and Konchalovsky out of the country. The first two – into countries best “prepared” by the KGB, into Italy and France; the third one into the very lair of the enemy, the United States. At first sight it was only Konchalovsky who was able to complete his task, and who now enjoys the fruits of its activity in Moscow.

At first sight – however, you already realise, what first sight means here?

I assure you, for it makes no difference to the victim who kills him - whether it’s a mullah, or a Vanya in uniform, a Mаu-Mаu Tse Tung or an executioner from Hitler’s era. None of that has anything to do with film. Exactly: it has nothing to do with the film. And why not? Because it seemed to be a film, but it has turned out that there isn’t any film - anything you want, but no film.

And what do you expect, if mullahs, the KGB, Chinese party officials, western producers - have we left anyone out - make these absolutely-no-film films?

And what films are you expecting from them?


Director’s Intention – How


Call for a blind poet, my dear, for someone who will sing you a bitter song about the secret of light.
Talk about focal lengths, write a song of 500mm, bow down to the lens which was bent by that strange genius, the idler, who, peering down from his balcony enjoys a distant girl in another’s bedroom. No borders, no special services, no police can stop block the lens, it is more tender than any animal.

It’s the grain that’s the problem, but what can grind/cut it better than the air, the icy light.

Once I briefly mentioned that I am not one of those who much appreciate the consciously drawn/planned and tightly produced film – whether my own or, still less someone else’s - particularly, if the film, the project which dives deep into reality, is actually realised.

If you like, film is a dialogue with reality, and you can’t write part two – unless you fake it.

There’s something else that happens during this - dialogue, fucking, whatever you want to call it – you discover that many of your plans, questions, scripts/screenplays, ideas, opinions cannot stand up to that contact with reality, and you reinvent it all on the spot.

You can call it DMF -Dynamic Film Making, you have to really, it is much more exciting and much more exhausting than any improvisation, because you aren’t doing on a safe stage (sometimes even with applause), but under real, very brutal conditions - sometimes with criminals and murderers - and I have been close to my physical end at least a dozen times.

In addition I work on the following principle: everything that comes into the film must move me deeply, attack me, I must laugh, cry, become crazy; if I cannot experience the film intensively that way, then I don’t make it. I don’t believe in films which calm you emotionally or spiritually - at best they are cerebral emanations or rather, bubbles, miscarriages/monstrosities/.

Third: each shot must easily clear the cinematographic bar, which I put high; if it can’t do that do, it lands in the garbage.

And fourth, it’s not primarily stories or scripts, not characters, or philosophies, not actors, not social ideas, not ideas in general, not themes that interest me in a film; what interests me above all in a film is the film itself, it must be a physical-spiritual-aesthetic-filmic experience, one that’s either there or it’s not. That’s what I know, and where it comes from – nobody really knows where it comes from, least of those who teach it. If the film is there, it is not because it has been defined by the audience, not by the producer/director, not by ratings, not in Cannes or in LA, no, it is realised through the film itself, in the context of the film, by every film, every film that has already been made and by every film that’s going to be made in the future, because there is a constant dialogue going on between all films, including those as yet unmade.

To recognize this deep secret reality and law of film, and to obey, yes, even to serve them - that is what I call Ontological Film Making.

The whole of film is a very strange, peculiar, sometimes gay, sometimes explosive, mixture compounded of reality, and what we call feature, acted, scenes.

If you join a gang of bandits/ criminals/ bunch of gangsters and act away without saying that you are acting, and the playing and the gang members/ bandits/ feel you are a real person, treat you as such, what is it? - it is no longer acting in the usual sense, rather working as an undercover agent – isn’t it?

You have to cross the generally-agreed borders “in front of” and “behind” the camera properly/ in the proper way (that the only important thing), and some jumpcuts/cuts are very valuable in cinematographic sense for me, they say a lot about film making, and for me they say a great deal more than all the English theatre literature about ghosts – suddenly you’re in a different dimension. I don’t mean each and every jump cut comes back to: which jump? – GENERALLY SPEAKING I AM AGAINST SLOPPY CUTTING – THIS IS SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

The attitude some people have, the compulsion to understand everything is, I think, inadequate, to put it mildly, completely out of place, because for me, when I understand everything I get bored, and doze off immediately - I need something unknown, impossible, new. I want to say, it is not a lesson, but then, I’ve also got some objections to traditional teaching. A lot of people think that at least the author understands his work – however, the honest ones the least – at best they ask honest questions. I am no cleverer than my spectators and it would be embarrassing arrogance to pretend to instruct humanity in a film - at best: to ask questions, to begin a conversation, to offer an invitation to a marvellous, ecstatic, unforgettable, truthful, cinematographic journey – all the rest is up to the spectator, and that is then totally out of control – all the audience then sees its own films.


Don Askarian
 

 

About the film


A series of controlled improvisations. They focus on the holy Armenian mountain Ararat that is out of reach in Turkey. The filmmaker looks at his mountain as a poet, a dancer, a painter. And of course, eventually also as a filmmaker.
Ararat is a holy mountain for Armenians. According to Biblical tradition, Noah saw the first land here again after the Great Flood. So it is difficult for Christian Armenians that the mountain is just over the border in Islamic Turkey. They can only look at it. That is also what Don Askarian does with great dedication and using all his visual inventiveness.Askarian worked for at least five years on this film, which is hard to label. It is not a drama or a documentary and it can’t be put in the tradition of the experimental film – for that he puts up too much resistance to what we now understand as ‘modern’. Whatever, the film maker studies his mountain from every conceivable angle, just as the great French painter Cézanne once studied Mont Sainte-Victoire, or like the equally great Japanese print maker Hokusai studied Mount Fuji.Askarian improvises on his fourteen views in such a monitored and imaginative way that a new reality seems to emerge. A reality that seems to float between magic and truth and wants to shirk time and space. The view of Askarian, or maybe rather his vision, of the mountain is deeply rooted in Armenian culture. A culture that had to be fought for in a tragic history. The film makes this tangible too.
This beautiful mountain has experienced a lot. Seen a lot. Before and
after the Great Flood.


GERTJAN ZUILHOF

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREDITS

 

Script, director, editor, art director
Don Askarian

Based
on the short stories

"Rusya" by Ivan Bunin &
"The Ear of Consultant "
by Alexander Delphinov

Cameraman
Sargis Kharazyan

Assistant of cameraman
Andranik Mamikonyan

Sound
Nune Hovhannisyan
Kees van der Knaap
Lilit Gulyan

Sound editing
Nune Hovhannisyan

Computer operating & editing
Arthur Petrosyan

Make-up
Lola Sukiassyan
 

 

Supported by
Rotterdams Fonds
voor de Film en audiovisuel media
Hubert Bals Fund
Cafesjian Family Foundation
Nederlands Fonds v. de Film
European Commission MEDIA
Prins Bernard Culturfonds

In cooperation with
ZDF- 3sat


Commissioning editor
Achim Forst


Thanks to

Marianne Balhotra
Toine Berbers
Gerard L. Cafesjian
Inge Classen
Grigor H. Grigoryan
Jacques Delmony Mart Dominicus
Sandra den Hamer
Jaques van Heijningen
Lou Ann Matossian
Gertjan Zuilhof
 

 

Drivers
Vardan Nazari
Gagik Hayrapetyan

Pirotechnicians
Tigran Shahinyan
RubenShahinyan

Production Managers
Vladimir Badasyan
Sarita Sharma

Line producers
Nune Hovhannisyan
René Goossens


Producers
Don Askarian
Nune Hovhannisyan


Co-produced by
Don Film, Armenia
Film 21, Holland
Askarian Film, Germany

 

 

                

 

CAST

 

 

The Numismatist Phil
Mikael Vatinyan

Yurik (1st Friend)               
Artak Poghosyan

The Killer 
                               
Sergey Tovmasyan

Inspector Duryan                    
Karen Mirighanyan

Ohan
Ohan Askarian

Lisa
Suzzan Avetisyan
 

 

Mother
Nune Hovhannisyan

The Gang’s Members
Ruben Sedrakyan
Aghasy Khachatryan
Vartan Martoyan

The Retired General
Don Askarian

The Collector Boryan
Gagik Rostomyan

Wife of the Collector

Lilit Aramyan

 

 

The Girl on The Flea Market
Varvara Hovhannisyan

The Inspector Tsaturyan
Artak Gasparyan

The Policeman
Andranik Mamikonyan

The Undercover Policemen
Tigran Shahinyan
RubenShahinyan

The Second Friend
Gagik Hayrapetyan

The Third Friend
Vladimir Badasyan

 

 


Home

 

Copyright by Don Film, 2007

 

Top