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Annotating Yerevan

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18:01, July 30, 2015

Tina Bastajian is a media artist and researcher born in Los Angeles and based in Amsterdam. Currently she is a lecturer of documentary film at Amsterdam University College and of media and culture at Webster University, Leiden. Among her works are “Jagadakeer… between the near and east” (2001), “A tree once grew on Pushkin” (2009), “Coffee Deposits: Topologies of chance” (an interactive documentary in collaboration with Seda Manavoglu, 2010). Last week Tina Bastajian started a workshop at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies called “Geolocated Storytelling”. Hetq spoke with Tina about the project and related issues.

What is ‘geolocated storytelling’ all about?

Foreign Grants Received by Armenia’s Ministry of Culture

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12:30, July 30, 2015

The “Union of Informed Citizens” has already presented the international grants Armenia has received in the agriculture sector. Continuing this series, we are presenting the international grants provided to Armenia’s culture sector.

The data provided by the Ministries of Culture and Finance of Armenia in response to our inquiry show that organizations functioning under the RA Ministries of Culture and Finance received grants totaling US$ 4,060,180 during 2005-2014.

By Projects

In terms of the amount of financial assistance, 1st place goes to the National Cinema Center of Armenia SNCO. The Center (a State Non-Commercial Organization) has received more than 3 million Euros in assistance from different countries for shooting 10 films.

‘No depiction of catastrophe will ever make up for a 100 years of denial’

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23:21, July 7, 2015

Last week, renowned Canadian film director Atom Egoyan was in Turkey for the first time. Although he had received many invitations from film festivals before, he had preferred not to come. He had legitimate reasons, fears and concerns. ‘Ararat’, the film he shot 13 years ago, had faced intense reaction and repression in Turkey; and could not be screened.

There was a special reason for Egoyan’s visit: He had been asked to be best man at Sera Dink and Eric Nazarian’s wedding. His concerns accompanied his curiosity as he set out towards Turkey. He returned as a host to the country his ancestors had been exiled from. He was surprised, happy and full of emotion. History was being written: “History is not always made by large public statements, but by the conversation between individuals.” We spoke to Egoyan, and discussed the Diaspora and Turkey, and also ‘Ararat’.

Golden Apricot Film Official: "This year’s Armenian films weren’t that good"

June 26, 2015 Armenia, Film No Comments
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14:59, June 26, 2015

There are twelve films entered in Armenian Panorama category at this year’s International Golden Apricot Film Festival soon to take place in Yerevan.

The twelve finalists were culled from a total of 90 submissions.

Raffi Movsisyan, who coordinates the category competition wasn’t impressed with what he saw.

“Sadly, this year’s Armenian films weren’t that good. We found ourselves in a serious quandary because we watched the films for a long time, discussed them, and had to select the finalists.”

The category showcases a variety of films – documentaries and commercial, shorts and full length. The category will select three winners – Best Armenian Full Length Film, Best Armenian Short, and Best Armenian Documentary.

Scores Arrested As Police Break Up Yerevan Protest

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More than 230 people were arrested in downtown Yerevan early on Tuesday as riot police broke up an overnight demonstration against rising electricity prices in Armenia on a street leading to President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration building.

Security forces backed up by a powerful water cannon used force to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue at the end of a nine-hour standoff with mostly young demonstrators demanding that the Armenian authorities revoke a more than 16 percent rise in the energy tariffs. Only a few hundred of them remained camped out there by that time.

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12th Annual Golden Apricot Film Festival Kicks Off July 12

June 16, 2015 Armenia, Film No Comments
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18:32, June 15, 2015

This year’s 12th Annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival will kick off on July 12 and wrap up on the 19th.

1,600 submissions from 105 countries were received this year, up from 1,500 submissions from 95 countries in 2014.

At the heart of this year’s festival will be films on the Armenian Genocide. Two big programs will be arranged as part of the festival dedicated to Genocide:We ExistandNever Again.

The juries will be headed by:

International Feature Competition- Robert Gudiguian (France)

International Documentary Competition–Marek Hovorka (Czech Republic)

Apricot Stone International Short Film Competition– Hovik Habechyan (Lebanon)

Armenian Panorama National Competition– Aleksander Grozev (Bulgaria)

For more information, visit the Golden Apricot website.

Turkish Documentary Filmmaker Seeks Inner Reconciliation with Armenians

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12:02, June 12, 2015

Turkish video artist and cinematographer Umut Vedat wants the screenwriter for his film on the Armenian Genocide to be the Armenian public.

He’s been working on the film for three years and has an Armenian photo archive. He’s also transcribed numerous personal stories.

“Given that the Genocide was a decision made by the Turks, I don’t want to be the one deciding everything in a film about it,” says Umut. “I want the Armenian public to participate in the making of the film. I want to listen to my Armenian friends, the taxi drivers, artists, or anyone who wishes to express an opinion.”

Chechen Corruption Documentary Receives More Than A Million YouTube Views

June 10, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Business, Film No Comments
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10:59, June 10, 2015

A film documenting alleged widespread corruption and human rights abuses in the Russian republic of Chechnya has received more than a million views despite being temporarily blocked by YouTube.

According to the Caucasian Knot newspaper, the Russian-language version of the film, which wasproduced by the Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia Foundation,was removed from YouTube on June 3 following a complaint about copyright violation.

The documentary was subsequently unblocked that evening and has now been viewed more than 1,170,000 times.

The film, called The Family, alleges that the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, extracts an unofficial tax from all Chechen citizens to finance the Akhmad Kadyrov Regional Public Fund.

Digital Journalism for Eastern Europe 2015

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21:14, June 6, 2015

Participants from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine will acquire smart skills and deep knowledge about mobile publishing, doing online research, and internet security. This blended learning course consists of two attendance phases in Germany and one intensive e-learning module. Scholarships are available.

Journalism means collecting, evaluating and publishing information, and this definition also applies in the digital world. Each technical advance opens up new possibilities for research and publishing. To take advantage of these opportunities, journalists must constantly build and update their skills. And they have to cope with a dangerous risk – the lack of digital security. Journalists will have to adapt to this – and repeatedly because of ever shorter innovation cycles.

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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.

Commentary

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.