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The Golden Apricot Film Festival, GAIFF, Rides Again in Yerevan honoring Paul Schrader

After being canceled last year because of the Covid pandemic Yerevan's unique Golden Apricot film festival is back in action. The 18th edition of this Armenian festival has been moved back this year from its usual midsummer slot to the current early autumn  time frame.  The traditional guest of honor this year is senior Hollywood director Paul Schrader, now 75, with nineteen directed feature films behind him.

Schrader started out as a film critic and screenwriter. His study of Japanese Yakuza  Eiga (Gangster films)  is a benchmark of  that genre. He then wrote the screenplays for a quartette of Martin Scorcese films including "Taxi Driver," (1976) and  "Raging Bull"(1980), both of which were highly acclaimed and made a mega star of actor Robert De  Niro.

As a director Schrader has worked with major actors  in such landmark films as 

 Blue Collar, (Richard Pryor), Hardcore, (George C. Scott) American Gigolo (Richard Gere) and  Patty Hearst.  "The Comfort of Strangers",  Schrader's kinky 1990 sex drama set in Venice, will be screened during the week.

A large slate of  Armenian short films are on the agenda as well as the latest feature film from France based director, Serge Avetisian, "Return to Sölöz".

While GAIF tends to focus on lesser known films from the immediate region a selection of prize winners from top European festivals are also scheduled.   These include  Leos Carax's "Annette" from Cannes, as well as "Benedetta" by Paul Verhoeven, "A Hero", by Asghar Farhadi,  and "Vortex", by  Gaspar Noé.

 

Other guests of the festival are Hungarian theater and film director Cornell Mundruzo and  leading Israeli directer, Nadav Lapid.  Lapid's  "Synonyms" was awarded the Golden Bear at Berlin  in 2019.  His latest film, "Ahed's Knee" will open the  current festival. 

 

The unusual festival name "Golden Apricot" refers to this fruit, which is  native to the region, as a symbol of Armenian identity. The festival runs ten days until October 20.

 

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