20th annual Arpa Award Winners and Honorees 2017

20th Arpa IFF Celebration Wraps with Touching and Emotional Tributes

HOLLYWOOD – The 20th Arpa International Film Festival and Awards Gala was full of memorable moments this year. An unprecedented number of guests attended the three-day film festival, held at Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theatre from November 3-5. The opening night program featuring the French biopic Dalida was sold to capacity, as were the centerpiece films Intent to Destroy’ and Dead on Arrival on Saturday evening.

Opening Night screening of DALIDA

Full house at the Opening Night screening of DALIDA, 20th annual Arpa International Film Festival, 11/3/2017

Award Winners and Honorees 2017 Arpa IFF

Awards were presented to the 5 winning films in the Best Short Film, Best Documentary, Best Feature Film Screenplay, Best Feature Film Director and Best Feature Film categories. Honorees Terry George, Carl Weathers, Alexander Dinelaris and Chris Cornell (posthumously) were given touching tributes, along with one-of-a-kind gifts.

Best Short Film Award 2017 – “MARIAM’S DAY OFF” (Armenia, 2016)


The Award was presented by actor Yancey Arias from the NBC series Kingpin and the FX series Thief.

Arshak Amirbekyan’s film, shot in Armenia, is about a young prostitute who meets an artist in a park, gets invited to a modeling session and finds herself in a rather new and exciting world of artists; but when night falls, she has to return to her regular life in the park.

The Award was accepted by actor/director Ashot Adamyan who stars in the film.

Best Documentary Film Award 2017 – “INTENT TO DESTROY” (USA, 2017)


The award was presented to Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger by top Eileen Ford model Ronnie Carol known for her role as Juliette Bagradian in the movie 40 Days of Musa Dagh along with a recurring role on the soap As the World Turns.

Pulling back the curtain on mass murder censorship in Hollywood due to U.S. government pressure to appease a strategic ally, INTENT TO DESTROY embeds with a historic feature film production as a springboard to explore the violent history of the Armenian Genocide and legacy of Turkish suppression and denial over the past century. Joe Berlinger’s thirteenth feature documentary film captures the cinematic and political challenges of producing a historically meaningful, big budget feature film in an environment rife with political suppression and threats of retaliation. By intertwining these three separate threads the modern-day production of THE PROMISE, the history of the Genocide and the century of international repression.
INTENT TO DESTROY will be released theatrically on Nov. 10 at the following locations: Laemmle’s Playhouse in Pasadena; Pacific Theaters 18 in Glendale, at the Americana at Brand; Village East Cinema in New York City.

Best Feature Film Screenplay Award 2017 – “THE LIBERATION OF SKOPJE” (Macedonia/Croatia/Finland, 2016), Writers: Dušan Jovanović, Rade Šerbedžija, Danilo Šerbedžija

THE LIBERATION OF SKOPJE captures the horrors and suffering of the Second World War, portrayed in bittersweet terms through the eyes of 11-year-old Zoran whose father has joined the partisans to fight the German occupiers and whose mother becomes involved with a German officer.

Best Feature Film Director Award 2017 – Daniel Maldonado for H.O.M.E” (USA, 2016)

H.O.M.E. is a film about urban communication, alienation and the human condition. Part lyrical tone poem of NYC, its comprised of 2 stories involving intimate & meaningful encounters through the lens of a “disconnected” city in constant motion.

Best Narrative Feature Film Award – “DALIDA” (France, 2016)


The award was presented by two-time Golden Globe nominated actress Barbara Carrera who starred in close to 40 movies, including the James Bond film Never Say Never Again, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Embryo.

DALIDA is an intimate portrait based on the real story of a strong, fiercely independent woman whose 30-year dazzling career was punctuated by tragic events, with no less than three of her lovers committing suicide. With over 170 million albums sold, Dalida was the first singer to receive platinum and diamond discs, some of her best hits including “Bang Bang”, “Paroles Paroles”, and “Avec Le Temps”. Dalida continued to hold concerts until her last days, but her suicide in 1987 immortalized her iconic image as a diva and renowned singer.

Highlights from the Special Honorees Segment of the Awards Gala 

The celebratory weekend closed with a spectacular sold-out closing night Awards Gala Banquet held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Sunday, November 5. Over 400 guests attended the special 20th anniversary evening hosted by filmmaker Eric Nazarian (The Blue Hour, Three Christs, The Sandcastle Girls). The program included special musical performances by theremin virtuoso Armen Ra and vocalist Mister X.

Career Achievement Award and Specially Engraved Mont Blanc Pen presented to Screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris

Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris, best known for his original screenplay for the 2014 film Birdman, received Arpa’s Career Achievement Award. His body of work includes numerous theatrical pieces and musicals, including The Bodyguard featuring the music of Whitney Houston, and the critically-acclaimed On Your Feet! Broadway musical about the life and career of Gloria Estefan.

screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris

Career Achievement Award recipient screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris

The Award was presented to Dinelaris by Michael Peretzian, with whom he collaborated with on the play “Red Dog Howls.” Peretzian is known for representing many distinguished screenwriters and directors, including John Madden and Anthony Minghella. Both Peretzian and Dinelaris in their remarks touched upon their Armenian ancestry and the need to be more accepting of Americans who come from different ethnic backgrounds. Dinelaris was also presented with a specially engraved Mont Blanc pen gifted by Bhindi Jewellers, in recognition of his superb writing.

Lifetime Legacy Award and Portrait presented to Angela Sarafyan to be gifted to Family of Chris Cornell

This year’s Lifetime Legacy Award was posthumously awarded to music icon Chris Cornell, whose life came to a tragic end early this year. Chris Cornell, best known as the lead vocalist for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as the founder and frontman of Temple of the Dog, was also a human rights activist committed to the world refugee crisis and the despair of vulnerable children. The Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter’s last solo release was the charity single “The Promise” written for the motion picture of the same name.

Chris Cornell portrait by Emil Kazaz

Chris Cornell portrait by Emil Kazaz

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Cornell Family was unable to attend the Gala. There to accept the Lifetime Legacy Award on behalf of the family was beloved actress Angela Sarafyan (Westworld, The Promise), a recipient of the Arpa Rising Star Award in 2014. Sarafyan was visibly moved after a touching tribute reel to Chris Cornell and emphasized his philanthropic and humanitarian efforts. A specially-commissioned portrait of Chris Cornell was gifted by renowned artist Emil Kazaz and presented to Sarafyan.

Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award and Unique Stone-Cross Sculpture presented to Terry George

Academy Award-winning screenwriter-director Terry George (The Promise, In the Name of the Father, Hotel Rwanda, The Shore, Some Mother’s Son) received the prestigious Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award named after the German soldier/medic who was stationed in the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide and documented the atrocities he witnessed in photographs.

Arpa’s coveted Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award, presented each year to a filmmaker whose work contributes toward the struggle for social consciousness and human rights, was awarded to Terry George in recognition of his extensive body of films that have shed light on the situation in his native Northern Ireland, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Armenian Genocide.

Terry George and Eric Nazarian

2017 Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award recipient Terry George with host Eric Nazarian

Terry George also received a unique stone-cross sculpted by Los Angeles-based artist Hrach Gukasyan. The tradition of etching crosses on stone is unique to the Armenian and Irish nations. A special stone-cross with a Celtic cross surrounded by Armenian motifs was commissioned by Arpa IFF, symbolizing the Armenian people’s gratitude to the Irish filmmaker.

Lifetime Achievement Award and Boxing Belt presented to Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers, the beloved actor best known for his portrayal of Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, was the recipient of Arpa’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Weathers has also starred in films such as Predator, Action Jackson, Hurricane Smith, Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Carl Weathers

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Carl Weathers

Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to the legendary actor was award-winning writer/producer Jason Wilborn, best known for his work on Queen Sugar, Brothers and Sisters and American Dreams. Weathers received a special personalized authentic championship boxing belt designed and gifted by SARTONK, originator of the modern boxing belt.

Special guests throughout the weekend included Serj Tankian, Angela Sarafyan, Billy Flynn, Barbara Carrera, Ara Keshishian, Ken Davitian, Stephen C. Sepher, Rory Fradella, Nazo Bravo, Lillo Brancato, Scottie Thompson.

More about Arpa International Film Festival and AFFMA foundation

Over the course of 20 years, Arpa International Film Festival has continuously provided a platform dedicated to cultivating cultural understanding and global empathy for international cinema. Recognized as one of the oldest independent film festivals for international cinema in Los Angeles, Arpa has bridged cultural divides by fostering dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. By showcasing local, international and Armenian films that explore critical issues such as war, genocide, dual identities, exile and multi-culturalism, Arpa has solidified its role in safeguarding films that continue to make a social impact.

One of the overarching goals of Arpa Foundation for Film, Music & Art (AFFMA) in launching its signature Arpa International Film Festival two decades ago, was to create an arena that offers Armenian filmmakers, Armenian films and Armenian-themed films wider exposure in Hollywood. In light of its landmark anniversary, AFFMA has decided to create internship opportunities for students of Armenian heritage who are pursuing careers in cinema and entertainment. This will augment previous forms of support given to filmmakers over the past 20 years, and allow the organization to deliver an increased number of film screenings and other events promoting Armenian artists year-round. 

Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA) is a non-profit 501 (3) (c) organization. To date, AFFMA has awarded over 150 individuals with grants in support of their creative endeavors. Through its Arpa International Film Festival, AFFMA has recognized industry legends, with Lifetime Achievement, Career Achievement, Humanitarian and Breakthrough Artist Awards. Arpa International Film Festival takes great pride in working toward recognizing the diverse tapestry of international talent and presenting it to an appreciative audience. We place a strong emphasis on filmmakers’ unique artistic vision, cultural diversity and social understanding.