It is believed that literature is the main source for other art disciplines. But the modern Armenian literature does not have the power to stand on its own grounds and to become a feeding source for other art disciplines. The interview conducted by Kinoashkharhwith playwright Karine Khodikyan started with this question.
Let’s look back on the history of our cinematography: “Pepo”, “For the Honor”, “We and Our Mountains”, “Nahapet”, “Yearning”, “”Chaos”: What are all these films based on? On the classical works. We can conclude from this that if the literary base is strong enough the film does not need self-affirmation, it already has a solid ground to be based on. But there came a time when a number of directors started to think that they were able both to write the script and to shoot the film and to do anything. The Armenian cinematography didn’t suffer a lot but their films suffered as the majority of them were stillborn and didn’t differ from each other. When a director is working on a literary work, he benefits from it. It is also a two-edged sword as he should be able to deal with the work. This is the key to success.
And why don’t the directors want to make use of that opportunity? The problem might be in the domain of literature.
The two movies of Vigen Chaldranyan “Symphony of Silence” and “The Maestro” have been made on the basis of Gurgen Khanjyan’s literary works, and both films were successful. “Sunrise over Lake Van” is an interesting film that touches upon modern issues. The screenwriter of the film is Armen Vatyan, who is a writer, a playwright and a scriptwriter. The film “The Damned” has been shot on the basis of the literary work of one of the contemporary writers Yervand Khachikyan, and the result is obvious. Every person must do his job: the director his job and the screenwriter his job. When the works of both of them are harmonized the film is successful. Soon there will be held the premiere of a film, which is based on a true story. During the invasion of Maragha a six-year-old girl becomes a hostage of an Azerbaijani woman whose son is to be exchanged with the girl. The film director is Jivan Avetisyanand the script has been written by me. During the working process I studied a large number of materials related to the topic. Meanwhile I got acquainted the materials that Jivan had. As a result a script was created that expressed both Jivan’s perspective about it all and my perspective as a writer. I think that it has enriched the film more.
Don’t consider me an old person but it is possible to take the best of all time. During the Soviet period the position of the editor existed, moreover two editors worked on one film. The word was evaluated in the films. In general, in the works of fiction speech should be evaluated, and the value of the speech is when a word is in the right place and the dialogue is correctly constructed.
Don’t you think that an interesting dialogue is missing everywhere: in the cinematography, literature, in television? Very often a dialogue is like an exchange of senseless ideas, nothing more than a series of words.
The dialogue should be established in the society first of all. The art is the reflection of the society. No dialogue is established between people of different social status or those who are similar. There is only monologue and inner dialogue in our society. The desire to interact with others is lost and it is vividly seen in literature, films and in television…Today we only hear the monologue of the director in many films, though there are many characters performing some actions. It is difficult to say what it is, but it is not what our audience wants to see. Maybe I repeat myself but the directors should cooperate with professional scriptwriters and playwrights who can easily solve that issue. The directors will only benefit from that cooperation, and the most important thing is the audience will benefit. Unfortunately there not many professional scriptwriters and playwrights in our country. Let me present some approximate statistics. Writers’ Union of Armenia consists of more than 400 members out of which 300 are poets and novelists, over 100 are literary critics and translators and only 10 of them are playwrights. Gurgen Khanjyan, Norayr Adalyan, Samvel Khalatyan…I can claim for each of them that they can cope with any topic proposed by a director if the topic is interesting to them. And wonderful works can be crated. What is going on today at our theatre? Some fuss and sexual confusion…I might seem funny for some people experiencing a sexual revolution who think everything is based on sexual actions, but don’t forget that the story of a man in which there are real feelings is more close to the heart of the audience.
You were among the jury of the first “Hayak” Film Awards Ceremony. Naturally you have once more looked through the Armenian films created during the years of independence and submitted for the award ceremony. What are the films of the independent Armenia like according to you?
The greatest achievement of the years of independence has been the documentary movie. Around 30 documentary films were submitted. I confess that I have given my voice to Vardan Hovhannisyan’s film “A Story of People in War and Peace”, but I bow to all our cameramen, scriptwriters and directors working in this genre during all these years. Their films have the pulse and the breath of the time. These years have been the years of the victory of documentary films, I am proud of it.
Let’s turn to another topic: the character of woman in Armenian cinematography. How do you see that character in today’s reality?
Interesting literary works were created during the Soviet period but there is no character of a vigorous woman. There are three types of women: a thinking woman, an angry woman and a Woman like Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and the others. Our literature hasn’t created such characters. Our literary heroines are selfless characters making sacrifices for their homeland, or they are resentful women suffering for the sake of their families. Our cinematography and literature don’t have a woman making a choice. She must obey, accept all the conditions of life and get along with everything. And this is the source of the distortion of woman’s nature, but we are living in the 21st century already. During the years of war when the Armenian women managed to keep the house clean, cook and go to work with their hair done with a hairdryer in the morning having electricity only for two hours, I understood that Armenian women are the best in the world. I want to see that woman in today’s films and literary works: a woman who is capable of self-sacrifice, love, forgiveness and betrayal, why not. I want to see that type of woman: not only obedient, but also resistant.
You are mainly working for the theater. What are the prospects of cooperation with films?
Currently I have four scripts in my drawer. I have a script of a full-length film in comedy genre. It is for two years that the script has quietly slept in the drawer. I have presented it in some places but have been told that there is no money. We also lack producers, which is also a problem. One of my plays entitled “A Second Testament” is now at the hands of the young and talented director Anna Bayatyan. She is very excited and I hope that the script will turn into a film one day. It is about the destinies of three women. I think that Karine Janjughazyancan play the role of one of that characters, the mother’s character, in an excellent way.
As long as one is waiting for love, happiness the cinema, theatre and the literature will exist. The genuine art will exist even in small islets. So it was, so it will be.
The interview by Alisa Gevorgyan