“A widely spread opinion tells that Hollywood mostly produces bloody and terrific films with no social life, common problems or art issues overview. Unfortunately this opinion has turned into a strong stereotype,” such contemplations have been expressed by Nancy Van Horn, a cultural attaché of the US embassy in Armenia, in an interview to “Kinoashkharh”.

She mentioned all films produced and screened in 2013, pointing out that the stereotype was groundless, based on false opinions. Oscar nominated films covered racism, homosexuality and slavery issues, thus, all society problems find proper coverage in American films.

Moreover, she was confident that both the Americans and Armenians wish to watch films which absorb minds but, at the same time, are able to leave a message.  “American Hustle” with Bradley Cooper starring tells about two fraudulent actors involved in affairs with corrupt politicians.

It would never occur that such a film could be interesting and amusing. “My mother advised watching it”, said Nancy Van Horn. She said Hollywood had always had a reputation of setting a freedom policy. For instance, “Dallas Buyers Club” raises a very subtle issue of homosexuals. “I think that both American films and Hollywood can play a significant role in the world preaching tolerance”, stated the attaché.

“Of course, each country sets its own cinema policy, however, I think that countries which exercise free artistic approaches are in an advantage”, said Ms. Van Horn adding that American cinemas are free in screening commercial movies, however, rich traditions of various movie genres have also been established in the US, including documentaries. “Documentaries are of drastic importance as they introduce American social life, which is something you can never see in a blockbuster. Documentaries give an opportunity to see the real American way of life.”

The responsible person for the Embassy cultural programs pointed out some of them, which are to be implemented in Armenia. In 2013 the Embassy realized a film festival granting 24 prizes to participants. Ms. Van Horn is sure that a number of talented young film makers, involved in documentaries, is quite large in Armenia.

The Embassy realized a joint project with “TUMO” for 20+ young people. A competition was organized and 80 people applied to participate. 3 seminars, delivered by Russian, British and US professionals, were organized for the 21 participants selected in the result of the competition. Each of the selected young people will have a chance to make a short 15-20 minute documentary.

The attaché has not seen the films yet as they are still in the production stage. However, she is aware that they are directed to subjects of particular interests.

“A village life makes a theme for one of the films, borders –for another, like after the collapse of the Soviet Union a bordering village between Armenia and Georgia was set apart. There is a film which depicts life and problems of the homeless; another film maker investigates the Tbilisi archive as her grandparents suffered from repressions once”. The program will be accomplished by the screening of all the films in June; a group of professionals, the jury, will select the best works.

Mentioning the fact of forbidding the screening of the films “Wall Street Wolf” and “The Nymphomaniac” in Armenia and Russia, the cultural attaché pointed out that she had not watched these films yet and, thus, remained unaware of the content and details connected to the fact. “I think each country has its own cultural and moral criteria, however, I do not know what happened related to these two films. We have a different approach in the US, we let people make their own choice of whether to buy cinema tickets or not…and I think this approach works! ”

Answering a question of whether there is a possibility of cooperation between our two countries in the field of cinema Ms. Van Horn said that the US does not support cultural programs, the fact which many foreigners find surprising. The USA does not have the Ministry of Culture and the collaboration between American and Armenian filmmakers can develop only in the private sector. As far as the Embassy is concerned – they are happy to provide possible opportunities to develop and encourage such collaboration. In the nearest future the Embassy will invite 3 professional film producers in Armenia.

By the way, the American attaché finds Sergey Paradjanov the most famous Armenian film director, his museum is the best place in Yerevan for her. “I think it’s hard to understand “The Color of Pomegranate” , his all films are very spiritual ”, she confessed. She is also familiar with the works of a Canadian film director, Atom Egoyan. “I was greatly impressed by “”Ararat” and “Calendar”, they tell so many things about Armenia”.

Ruzan Bagratunyan