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Golden Apricot Reports: AMERIKATSI -- A new look at Armenia from a half Armenian viewpoint

Golden Apricot Reports -- July 10-17, Yerevan

           by Alex Deleon


The film poster shows a man standing in a Storks nest gazing out at the holy Mount Ararat in the distance, and perhaps beyond to the Diaspora.  In Armenia storks are a symbol of the Diaspora because they always come back home no matter how far they have flown ...

AMERIKATSI   means  "The American " in Armenian and it was the prestige Opening Film at GAIFF, 2022. This  is a story, based to a certain extent on actual events, of anAmerican based Armenian Genocide survivor who returns to Armenia in 1948 when the country was under Soviet domination and known as  the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, ASSR.

He is soon imprisoned for "western leanings" where from his prison cell through a hole  in the wall he is  able to observe a married couple in an apartment next to the prison. This ongoing  voyeurism restores his will to live as he begins to identify strongly with them. The odd twist is that the man turns out to be a guard at the prison  which will eventually lead to startling complications when he finally meets them.

The film  which has certain comical elements, was enthusiastically received by an opening night audience including older people who had grim memories of Soviet times, and there was even  sporadic applause erupting at certain points during the screening! -- in addition to the full standing ovation at the end.

Director Michael Goorjian, himself an Amerikatsi of Armenian ancestry ( but only on the paternal side) plays the central role of Charlie, the imprisoned repatriate.

Goorjian also penned the intricate script and avowed that there is perhaps a certain sidelong influence from the 1997 Italian Holocaust comedy (!)  -"Life is Beautiful". by Roberto Begnini.

Director Goorgian avows that his purpose with Amerikatsi is  not just to  tickle the ribs of the local audience here, but to reach out to Diaspora Armenians as well,  while at the same time introducing   Non-Armenian audiences to Armenian culture.

Shooting, which took place in Armenia at the height of the Covid plague,  was interrupted several times but was completed by ingenious manipulation of the obstacles involved.  The showing of the final result here was the world premiere.. The question now  is -- what next?  Goorjian is still looking for a competent international distributor and also has high hopes that the Armenian film establishment will see fit to submit Amerikatsi as the Armenian foreign film entry in the 2023 Oscar derby.  


From here this writer can see no better fit, and a possible winner of the Best Foreign Language film Oscar, which would indeed be a feather in the Armenian cinematic cap.




Alex, Alice, and Michael, conferring about Amerikatsi over coffee,

Goorjian also directed Kirk Douglas in his last film,  "Illusion", 2004:"

a sparkling gem which somehow got lost in the Hollywood shuffle,




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