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Quentin Tarantino stages reading of leaked film script

April 20, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Film No Comments
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Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Dern and Michael Madsen have joined Quentin Tarantino in Los Angeles for a reading of his leaked script, Hateful Eight, the BBC reports. Once due to be the follow-up to Django Unchained, Tarantino cancelled the film in January after the script spread around Hollywood and film websites.At the time, he said he was “very, very depressed” by the leak.But he was in better spirits for the one-off live reading and hinted his movie may yet see the light of day.”I’m working on a second draft and I will do a third draft but we’re reading from the first draft,” he told the audience at Los Angeles’ Theatre at the Ace Hotel.The 51-year-old also suggested the script would be changed substantially in future drafts.”The chapter five here will not be the chapter five later so this will be the only time it is seen, ever,” he said.Set in post-civil war Wyoming, the Western drama takes place after a blizzard diverts a stagecoach from its route, stranding a mismatched group of outlaws in a saloon.Among their number are a competing pair of bounty hunters, a renegade Confederate soldier and a female prisoner.Several of Tarantino’s old cast-members took part in the reading, with Tim Roth (Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), Kurt Russell (Death Proof) and Amber Tamblyn (Django Unchained) all on stage.”We’ve been rehearsing this for the last 3 days and we’re not bad,” said Tarantino.Jackson and Russell played the dueling bounty hunters, while Madsen played cowboy John Gage and Tarantino narrated.”Guys, you are starting to drift away from the dialogue on the page,” he told the ensemble at one point. “No more co-writing!”About 1,200 people attended the show, with tickets priced between $150 – $200 (£90 – £120).Among the audience were film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has distributed several of Tarantino’s movies, and X-Men writer David Hayder.Mobile phones were banned, and there was no live stream of the event.Meanwhile, Tarantino is suing gossip website Gawker for contributory copyright infringement after it posted a link to the leaked screenplay.The trial is due to start on 27 January, 2015. 

Suffolk University: Partner in Armenian Genocide Denial?

April 17, 2014 Armenia, Film, Turkey No Comments
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10:40, April 17, 2014

By Heidi Boghosian

(The following article, dated April 15, 2014, appeared on the National Lawyers Guild blog)

Students at Suffolk University Law School have launched anonline petitionurging the school’s president to withdraw its invitation to Armenian genocide denier Abraham Foxman to speak at their commencement and receive an honorary degree.

Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League director, drew harsh public criticism in 2007 for opposing a congressional resolution acknowledging the 1915 extermination of approximately 1.5 million Armenians. Since the 15th century, Armenians had been treated as second-class citizens under Ottoman rule. In honoring Foxman, Suffolk University sends a message that politics are more important than acknowledging crimes against humanity.

Flights of fancy! Designer paints concept airplanes inspired by dinosaurs, dolphins and even chickens – but could they ever fly?

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From dinosaurs to dolphins and birds, one artist has been inspired by nature to create incredible images of concept airplanes.Alex Brady set out to create aircraft that look streamlined, futuristic and beautiful, but experts are not convinced that machines based on the designs would ever be able to fly.The ‘100 per cent whimsical’ drawings are also influenced by popular sci-fi films as Mr Brady, 31, from Cambridge, wanted to draw ‘instantly recognizable craft’ as iconic as Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise.While he has no background in aircraft design, Mr Brady has drawn jets for films and computer games that look like they could soar though the skies on other planets and in future times.‘They look like they might fly but are strange and silly,’ he told MailOnline.Among the creatures which Mr Brady has based his designs upon, are: Warthogs, zebras and woodlice, marine creatures like manta rays, dolphins and jellyfish, birds such as swifts and swallows as well as the pterodactyl, a new extinct ancient flying reptile.He set out to draw machines that also act as ‘characters’ because of their animalistic qualities and hopes one day to design futuristic transport full-time for films and games.‘I wanted them to look instantly recognizable and to make them look kind of friendly’ despite the fact that many war planes are built to kill people.He admits that he has never grown out of dinosaurs and is ‘stealing from the best’ that nature has to offer.‘You can’t come away from watching a David Attenborough documentary without thinking about how beautiful and interesting nature is. And I’d love cars and planes to be beautiful and sculptural – a little like yachts are. Not just about the function of sailing.’He said that Steve Wheeler particularly inspires him because of his work for film director Peter Jackson, models of sci-fi vehicles and writing as well as films such as Star Wars and author Iain M Banks.Mr Brady creates his amazing drawings by first making 3D models using computer software called 3D Studio Max.He then draws on top of them in Photoshop and said that while the technique allows him great accuracy in his work, there are also ‘happy accidents of the pen’ that gives his work impact and lets them flow.While some of the futuristic aircraft concepts certainly look like they can fly, Professor Ian Poll, of Cranfield Aerospace who is an expert in aerospace engineering and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is doubtful that the ideas would create a real flying machine.‘Birds and dinosaurs are nature’s ultimate evolved flying machines,’ he told MailOnlineHe said that Mr Brady’s art is fanciful and creative, but would probably not make for efficient aircraft built upon engineering knowledge.‘Birds and dinosaurs don’t have jet engines or propellers to accommodate and their propulsion is limited by bone and muscle – meaning that they have to flap – which is not very efficient at all.’Professor Poll explained that if you design an aircraft around a bird, the best thing you could come up with is a copy of a bird.‘If you design one around a jet or propeller you get something appropriate to the power those technologies generate and probably a large wing span for efficiency as well as a blended wing and fuselage (the aircraft’s body that holds the crew, passengers or cargo).He did concede that some of the designs look as if they do have wings and the body of the aircraft, which could help them to fly, but the circular design inspired by a jellyfish, which also looks like many popular visions of UFOs, is ‘out of the question’ in terms of engineering.‘It would be really inefficient and you would need a different kind of propulsion system [than currently used] to make it fly,’ Professor Poll said.However, he said that Nasa’s prototype X-48B craft – which is a blended wing body concept and a cross between a conventional plane and flying wing design – does bear some resemblance to some of Mr Brady’s designs.An expert at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: ‘Most [of the drawings] look pretty unlikely but there is a lot of academic research into bio-inspired designs of many things. There is a lot to be learnt from nature but it is a lot more complex that copying the shape.’

Swimming in Reality: Photojournalist finds escape in innovating, collecting


The little fish swimming carelessly in what used to be Soviet brand “Minsk” radio adapter, “Horizon” and “Elektron” TV sets are unaware of the Soviet biography of their new homes. Even the pages of Soviet-time “Vokrug Sveta” (Around the World) covering the radio set cannot orient them to the unusual origin of their surroundings.

“’Minsk’ was made in 1930, Stalin epoch. People I know give those to me instead of just disposing of them, because they know I collect them. I take the radio set apart, clean it, sand it, assemble it back and change it little bit,” tells photo-journalist Hayk Biyajyan, famous mostly for his “Ciao USSR” and “Vanishing Memories” projects.

Armenian Villagers Buckle Under Weight of Bank Loans: Frost will Increase Emigration and Crime

April 11, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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14:15, April 11, 2014

The recent frost that struck Armenia at the end of March has hit rural communities the hardest. Residents of one village say because of the frost they are barely able to make their loan payments, adding that the frost could even lead to increased emigration and crime.

Zhora Ordoyan has been tending to his 4000-square-meter apricot orchard with his family since February. First, he hoed then fertilized land, hoping to get an abundant harvest this year. But, after last month’s sudden frost, he lost all hope. He goes to the orchard today too — but now to count his losses.

Director of “Grandma’s Tattoos”: ‘Loving Armenia Must Be a Two-Way Street’

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12:33, April 8, 2014

Suzanne Khardalian talks about her experiences during the shooting of the film, Armenian identity and the plight of Middle East Armenian communities

Suzanne Khardalian is a film director probably best known to Armenians for her 2011 documentary “Grandma’s Tattoos”.

Born in Lebanon and now living in Sweden, Khardalian has also directed other films on the Armenian Genocide including “Back to Ararat” (1988) and “I hate dogs”  (2005). She has a Masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

I recently spoke to Khardalian about the Armenian Genocide, the making of “Grandma’s Tattoos”, and recent events in the Middle East.

Environment Ministry Official to Reporters: ‘Drink some wine so you don’t write something bad about us’

April 8, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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10:10, April 7, 2014

The Ministry of Nature Protection’s Bioresources Management Agency led by Artashes Ziroyan is the agency responsible for making sure the1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which Armenia joined in 2009, is adhered to.

Until the summer of 2013, Siranush Muradyan, head of the Agency’s Dendropark Management Division, was the person responsible. However, after her death, no individual person was appointed. 

Despite Hetq’s reports on Armenia’s involvement in the illegal trafficking of rare and endangered species, Ziroyan believes that his agency “brilliantly” meets the Convention criteria and “strictly adheres” to the Convention. In this, he also tried to convince Swiss journalist Karl Ammann, who last week came to Armenia to shoot a film about the illegal animal trade. 

Khanty-Mansiysk chess tournament: Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik draw

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Armenia’s Interpol Clueless About Endangered Animal Trade Until Hetq Expose

March 26, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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18:45, March 26, 2014

Swiss reporter Karl Ammann and cameraman Klaus Sparwasser have arrived in Yerevan to produce a film for German TV station ZDF regarding Armenia’s role in the trafficking of endangered animal species.

It would seem that Hetq’s recent investigative series on the matter has caught the attention of those engaged internationally in the battle to stem the multi-million dollar illegal trade.

In their quest, Ammann and Sparwasser first met with Ara Fidanyan, who heads Interpol’s national bureau in Armenia.

Fidanyan told Hetq that his office first heard about the importation of two bonobo chimps to Armenia in August 2013 from their colleagues in the in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He then passed the information to law enforcement agencies in Armenia and a criminal case was launched. (The case is ongoing)

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Featured Books

Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

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For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests


The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction


Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.