Armenians in World Cinematography – Artsvi Bakhchinyan

Armenians in World CinematographyThe first Armenian film was shot by Vahan Zardarian in 1912. The founder of the Iranian cinematography was our compatriot Hovhannes Ohanian, while the producer of the first Lebanese film was Harutyun Tyurapyan. Many other similar facts are presented in the 2004 book “Armenians in world cinematography” by Artsvi Bakhchinyan.

The nearly 700 pages of the book feature facts about the contribution of more than 2,200 Armenians to the cinematography of 30 countries. Bakhchinyan also included the biographies of such activists of the world cinema culture as the author of the first color film Ruben Mamoulian, Hollywood actor Akim Tamirov, Armenian-French singer Charles Aznavour, legendary French filmmaker Henri Verneuil, director Atom Egoyan, and many others.

The abundance of interesting details, memories, and legends in “Armenians in world cinematography” attracts not only cinephiles but also common people. The book is the seventh work of the young yet quite famed Armenologist-philologist, the vice-president of the Armenian Association of Film Critics Artsvi Bakhchinyan.

Bakhchinyan published his first book, “Armenians by descent”, at the age of 22. This biographical directory included the names of the renowned Armenians of the Diaspora. The author without too much emotion carefully selected information about those Armenians’ descent, aiming to demonstrate the contribution of Armenian doers into the world civilization. In 2004, he published the extended edition of the book.

Bakhchinyan dedicated the book “Armenians in world cinematography” to his friend, a Danish-Armenian painter Elizabeth Romhild. The first chapter of the book tells us about the origins of the Armenian cinematography. The fruit of the author’s painstaking research is clearly visible: Bakhchinyan presents the first mentions of films in Armenian literature, data on the first shooting of films on Armenian topics in the 19th century, the very first film screening in Yerevan, the first cinemas in Armenia, as well as the attempts to shoot the first Armenian film.

Bakhchinyan also in-depth discussed the history of the disappearance of the documentaries depicting the bloody scenes of the Armenians’ killings during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 – 1923. He also writes about the tragic fate of Aurora Mardiganian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

However, for the most part, the book is dedicated to the Armenian doers in cinematography from countries all around the world, starting from the US and ending with Australia and New Zealand. He featured not only classical but also modern Armenian actors and directors, such as the director of the documentary “Madonna: Truth or Dare” Alek Keshishian, the performer of the role of the gorilla Julius in the film “Planet of the Apes” (1968) Buck Kartalian, the former owner of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio Kirk Kerkorian, American singer and actress Cher, a star of Brazilian TV series Arasi Balabanian, a heroine of Chinese films Liana Yedigarian, and even a pornographic actress Christy Canyon. The book also features a rich filmography on the Armenian theme.

Bakhchinyan has been collecting material for his book since the age of 16, which allowed it to become encyclopedically complete.

Ashot Grigoryan

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