- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 December 19 , 2003 

Film Future?: Movie studio resumes action after years of silence

The studio hopes that cooperation with partners will lead to more reels and more success.

Since 1976 Hayfilm movie studio (named after Hamo Beknazaryan) has maintained its place on 33.4 hectares just outside Yerevan.

But since 1990, little has gone on there. This year, though, six films have been shot at the studio and are now being edited.

"If during the past 12 years we've been in the abyss then today we've reached the surface and now are climbing up," says director of the film studio Gevorg Gevorgyan.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union Hayfilm had to face the problem of survival. Before the collapse eight movies were shot every year. Since, however, Hayfilm could manage to work only on one movie per year. In its prime, 1,100 people worked at the studio; now there are 270, barely managing on money allotted from the state budget.

"This is the only place in Armenia today where there are so many constructions and buildings, which remained intact," Gevorgyan says. "Everything is in its place. Nothing was lost or sold, not even a single needle. With great difficulties we've managed to survive and we've saved the studio by all means."

Gevorgyan has been director of the studio since 1992. He complains that difficult years fell to his lot but he also says that the world of art is something that, once entered, cannot be left.

Every year the studio gets 256 million drams (about $450,000) from the state budget for shooting one feature film and 117 million drams (about $210,000) for shooting three animated films. An additonal 4.5 million drams (about $8,000) is allotted for preservation of the cinematography collection and the same amount of money for participation at different festivals.

But the money from the government is not enough to do its work, so Hayfilm has started searching for money itself.

"To be more exact, we are looking for partners for producing films," Gevorgyan says. "We divide sums allotted for shooting feature films into three parts then we prepare the estimates and give 30-50 percent of the total sum to our business partners. Movies produced in cooperation are not only sources for finding money but they are also an opportunity for entering the free market."

About 270 workers keep HayFilm going.

Director Vigen Chaldranyan's "Symphony of Silence", an Armenian-French production, is one such movies. This year an American-Armenian movie "Samantha" has been shot (directed by Ruben Kochar). "Mariam", a movie directed by David Safaryan, was done in cooperation with Holland and Germany.

Gevorgyan says that the movie "Merry Bus" (directed by Albert Mkrtchyan) is taken with great enthusiasm in Berlin, however, there are no countries that wish to screen the movie even for the cheapest price.

"When we ask why they say, 'The audience will like your movie but how can we make them come to theatres if they don't know Hayfilm director and actors?'. It means that we must become known in the world," says Gevorgyan.

"Ashugh Jivan" directed by Harutyun Khachatryan and "Searching for Paradise" directed by Suren Babayan are now on the final stage of editing in the film studio. A documentary dedicated to Aram Khachatryan will be finished soon as well. Gayane Martirosyan's "Three Bells", Robert Sahakyants' "Fairy Tale" and the third part of "David of Sasun" animated films will also be finished soon.

The director says that movies shot in Hayfilm are taken to different festivals and win awards, hoewver, today Hayfilm cannot enter the film market because it requires too much money. Businessmen don't invest money in the film industry as there is no film business in Armenia.

"Making movies is a very expensive thing as well as a big source of business. We still have a long way to go. The world of cinematography has finally been developed and, like in the mafia, newcomers are not welcomed very well and are treated suspiciously in this field," Gevorgyan says.

Gevorgyan is sure that Armenia has great possibilities for becoming a regional center of film industry.

"We have been holding on to Hayfilm with all our strength for 15 years. We were against the sale of the film studio. Now we try to privatize and save the studio by attracting investments," says Gevorgyan.

In spite of cold working conditions, Gevorgyan says the film studio staff are happy doing their work.

"Of course, still there are a lot of things to do before we call the situation satisfactory but we are happy that Hayfilm exist," he says. "We are happy that we can shoot movies freely and we will do anything to put the studio into shape. I believe that Armenian cinema has a future."

According to Agnes
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The Week in seven days


The Arts in seven days


  Photo of the week
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Snow flakes the size of light bulbs?

No. In fact Yerevan's first snow Monday only lasted about as long as it took to shoot this photo.





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