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ALEX FARBA


 

Alex Farba Deleon is a filmfestivals.com ambassador

MY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS


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Yerevan Film Festival, Day 2

by Alex Delonian

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With Artsine Balahyan, Yerevan TV Channel One

Monday, the first Full Day of the fest, was quite remarkable. Balmy weather, not too hot, I hit a morning press conference for Armenian films at the Grand Tulip and met an interesting young lady, who turned out to be an interviewer for Yerevan TV and on the spot, shot a ten minute interview with me! 

Aha ~ already notoriety strikes.

I then saw my first real festival film, Melville's dissection of the French resistance in WWII, "L'armée des ombres" (1969) which totally blew me away. Stars Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret plus a bevy of other well known French actors. Long and slow moving, but still a knockout. The preparation in extenso for inexperienced Civilian Lino to bail out from an English military aircraft is almost a film by itself -- gripping! - bravura filmaking.

 

The next film in the same Blue Room of the Cavernous Kino 'Moskva was the Georgian competition entry, KHIBULA, which follows the escape route of the deposed first president of the country accompanied by a small band of loyal followers during the civil war which followed independence from Russia in 1991. The dazzling natural scenery of the country, snowy trails over forested mountains, narrow wooden bridges over rushing torrents of mountain streams, etcetera, are an important part of the overall picture, but other than trudge, trudge, trudge, with occasional stopovers in remote wooden houses, Nothing really happens so I lost interest at about the halfway mark in whether the pres will seek refuge over the border or eventually be restored to office -- and trudged out to seek relief from the drudgery.

At the big red hall next door there was a hefty crowd milling around and waiting to get in to see Wajda's last film "Afterimages" but since I had already seen it at Cannes I decided to take a stroll outside and look for a place to eat.

The next stop, however, was a new bookstore on the main drag, Abovyan, which has an amazing selection of language books. I picked up a Berlitz handbook of Russian and Finnish just before closing time, then went for dinner at the Dalan art-gallery restaurant which has an airy open-air patio inside.  A hearty bowl of red Russian borsht loaded with chunks of beef and a tall glass of ice cold local beer satisfied my hunger pangs.

I was about to call it an early night around nine o'clock when, walking up Abovyan heading for home at the Ani Plaza two blocks further on, I noticed a crowd of Festival badge people assembling in front of the Grand Tulip Hotel whereupon  inquiry revealed that they were getting ready to board a festival bus to the Polish embassy for a reception in honor of Wajda. 

Can't pass this up ~ so I got on and away we went. On board the bus I met Jack Boghossian, an Armenian from Argentina, who advised me that there is a strong Armenian presence in both Argentina and Uruguay, and also a major new film festival in Buenos Aires. A place I have always wanted to visit. Will have to work on that one soon.

It was quite a long ride out to the Embassy along the road to Lake Sevan and the reception was an enclosed garden party with enough vodka shot glasses stacked up geometrically on a table at the entrance to inebriate a regiment. Plenty of food all around on buffet tables, but not being very hungry I settled for a plate of Polish style ravioli, which in Jewish cuisine are called "Kreplach", covered with śmietanka (sour cream) and a glass of cherry juice spiked with żembrowka vodka.

The ambassador delivered a standard plauditory cliché laden speech ending with much clinking of glasses in memory of recently deceased immortal director Andrzej Wajda. A noticeable presence was festival director Harutyun Khachatryan, sartorially elegant as usual, tonight in white dinner jacket and broad brimmed white hat.

Standing around in the crowd I noticed British director Hugh Hudson who is here as a jury member and also presenting two films, his restored editor's cut of Revolution (Al Pacino against the redcoats)  and his most recent feature "Finding Altamira". He looks two decades younger than his actual calendar age (Born 1936) and we struck up a lively conversation. I mentioned that there used to be a fancy American automobile named for him, the flashy fastback Hudson. Hugh advised me that I wasn't the first to note the connection and that another American journalist, referring to the movie The Green Horner, in which a Hudson was used as the Hornetmobile, dubbed the director, "Hornet Hudson"!

 

Mr. Hudson, an affable down-to-earth gentleman, is easily the most famous name guest of the fest and I was happy to meet him under such liesurely vodka fueled circumstances. His new Altamira picture stars Antonio Banderas and Iranian actress Golshifte Farahani, a personal fetish of mine, so it is a high priority on my "must-see" festival film list.

Quiche- Aire Paree, 

which is good night in Armenian.

Alex, Ani Plaza Hotel,

Yerevan

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   The Iron Bear on Aznavour Plaza in front of the Kino Moskva  is a shining example of Armenian originality

 

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 Golshifte, Hudson, and Banderas, at the Spanish premier of Altamira

 

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