The recognition of national cinema starts with governmental institutions.
In a previous article, I discussed the importance of funding and commented on such governmental institutions, emphasizing their role in establishing a sense of national cinema. The first steps have now been taken in recognizing Armenian cinema.
The National Film Development Foundation, Orange Armenia and National Cinema Center of Armenia, have come together and introduced our first national film awards. The Hayak Film Awards were held on March 18 at the Alexander Spendiarian Armenian Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre. These first prizes were awarded to film production in Armenia since the post-independence period.
The formation of an awards ceremony now allows Armenia to nationally recognize their film industry. They are following in the footsteps of institutions such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars) and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (Genies).
There were special prizes awarded to leaders in the field, including cinematographer Levon Atoyan, director Albert Mkrtchyan and actor Sos Sargsyan (who was also head of the jury of the awards) for their contribution to Armenian cinema.
The first Hayak awards included prizes for Best Feature Film, which was awarded to Vigen Chaldranyan’s Voice in the Wilderness and Best Director, which was awarded to Harutyun Khachatryan for Border.
Mikael Pogosyan and Anna Elkbayan were awarded for Best Actor and Best Actress for their work on Yerevan, jan and Where Have You Been, Man of God?, respectively.
The national film awards come during an interesting time for Armenian cinema. Gor Kirakosian’s Lost and Found in Armenia became the first Armenian financed film of an American-Armenian production. These opportunities now open doors for future filmmakers from the country, inviting and encouraging them to produce films.
The Golden Apricot International Film Festival has, for years, awarded films, both domestic and foreign, as part of its film festival. The Hayak Film Awards, however, allows for the Armenian film industry to be further recognized on a national level.