2016 AIFF interviews with the filmmakers
The U.S. premiere of Lost in Armenia at the 19th Arpa International Film Festival is set to screen on November 5 at 6:15pm at the Egyptian Theatre. Directer Serge Avedikian and his film are up for Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
This Film is about a French comedian (played by Patrick Chesnais) who is accidentally stuck in a small village in Armenia after a show on the other side of the border. Lost without a visa or cellphone and unable to speak Armenian, he is quickly adopted as a savior by the local people.
As a part of a series of interviews with 2016 AIFF category nominees, Avedikian answered the following questions.
In the case of this film, Lost in Armenia, is the subject that caught my interest since the idea of departure does no come from me, but from Jean Francois Derec and Laurent Firode. But from he time that I accepted to work on the script, I invested one hundred percent of my time and developed the subject to the end with everything that I could instill in it.
Knowing today’s Armenia and its problems and people who live there with their worries, even if it’s imaginary it makes this journey a reality. I tried to find ways to discuss serious issues with lightness. We did this work with J.F. Derek, by visiting the village where the film took place.
Name a moment during shooting that made you proud.
There is no single moment, there were a successions of extraordinary moments that made the general atmosphere of the film so strong. The most difficult times were when there were a lot of people to deal with. One had to create a movement of togetherness, and make it so that the people who participated were in the moment and gave of themselves in that situation. It’s a happy ending when everything works well.
Was there an “Aha moment” while making your film?
There is not a single moment. The last scene, those of the goodbyes at the center of the village moved me. Plus Arsinée and Patrick were also very moved along with the whole crew.
Was there a bizarre moment that happened while making your film?
The night shootings had some special things — a mysterious ambience. When shooting a telephone seen on the roof of the church, there was a very strong wind. We had to attach and tie down everything from the projectors the camera even the sound engineer. It was a surreal situation hanging up high on the top of the church in ruins, in the middle of the night, with the village at a far distance… all of this had a very strong effect on the scene.
What is your favorite scene?
It depends on when I watch the film; but one does not choose between his children. Every scene of the film has its originality, even those that seem trivial.
What is your favorite line?
“That’s him who pays.”
What does it mean to have your film selected as a category nominee by the Arpa International Film Festival?
I am very happy that the film takes part in a festival that crosses language frontiers, and allows for politically incorrect questions and interpretations. This film is in two languages and is perceived by those who speak one or both languages in many different ways. This film bodes well with Arpa IFF’s audience and media, because of the various discussions that can be had.
BEST SCREENPLAY NOMINATION
Written by Serge Avedikian and Jean-François Derec. Derec answered on behalf of the writing team.
What was the writing process like?
Existence of the film it was straits the role of Chance and of your rational in the artistic creation. Laurent Firode and I decided to write a film by staging it within our freedom and our independence. Laurent knows of Armenia since he had already done a short film there.
Armenia had gradually imposed on us and was becoming on avoidably more personal for us. But, by the time we finished writing the first treatment, Laurent had to abandon the project. And here I was with an Armenian film in my hands, and I did not know anyone in Armenia.
This project that was so close to my heart was going to disappear into dust. But a miracle happened! I found Serge by chance. I told him about the project, he read it and it interested him.
I am a Polish Jew. Therefore, I had a common point with the Armenians – genocide. This created a bond between us. The existence of a scattered diaspora in the whole world, like a window into the world, the chance to achieve the creation of and fashion something similar in thought and above all humor.
This became a difficult task, despite the simplicity of the story. The essay between a fable and the necessary reality to give depth to it has been delicate. We also wanted that the viewer discovers along with the main character.
How did the subject matter of the film impact you while writing the screenplay?
I think that this narrow collaboration with Serge has had an unexpected impact. I became a bit Armenian and Serge a little bit Jewish. The Armenian fantasy for me has taken shape and our reparations.
How long did it take you to complete the script?
That is a bit difficult to determine as it was not done in one treatment. I can say that the treatment with Laurent took around two months and around nine more months with Serge.
Written by Sharon Swainson
Communications & Development Director
2016 Arpa International Film Festival