SAWCC New Films 2015

The South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) in conjunction with 3rd i NY is pleased to present New Films 2015, a one-day showcase of short films by South Asian women artists and directors. Featuring video art, animation, television, and documentary work, the selected pieces engage a diverse audience on a range of aesthetic, socio-political, and conceptual levels. Guest curator, Nandita Ahmed, will lead a short panel with selected artists after the screenings.
Featured artists: Sonali Gulati, Farheen HaQ, Shubhra Prakash, Gazelle Samizay, Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel, and Aneesh Sheth.

Space is limited. Please reserve tickets.



Sonali Gulati
Big Time-my doodled diary, 2015, 11.32 minutes

As “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” dominates the pop charts, Maya writes in her diary everything that rocks her teenage world, from the assassination of Indira Gandhi and her parents’ divorce, to the latest pimple that made its appearance. But suddenly not much else seems to matter when a new girl arrives at school. A delightful and intimate exploration of youthful obsession, budding sexuality and what it means to be a teenager, which all too often sucks, big time.



Farheen HaQ
The Table, 2015, 5.20 minutes

The Table is a video diptych of gestures that emerge from my subconscious where I tap into a lineage of women who have come before: those who washed by hand, made rotis, ground up spices, swaddled, wrapped and comforted. By wrapping myself in the long tablecloth, I am the baby, the young child and also the grandmother wrapped in a white sari. – Farheen HaQ



Shubhra Prakash
Funny Faces, 2015, 4.59 minutes

Two female comedians work well as a team. The establishment has laid down the rules, only one of the two is allowed to perform the jokes. Together they must challenge both the establishment and their own beliefs on talent, beauty and being an artist. Funny Faces was a result of a 72 hour film shootout competition, a worldwide contest that is conducted annually by Asian American Film Lab in New York City, where the theme was “Look Deeper”.


Gazelle Samizay
Left, 2011, 2.51 minutes

In a bittersweet extrication, a woman “cleans house” by casting away relics that have defined her womanhood–broken expectations of love and rigid standards of female purity.


Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel
Claiming Our Voice, 2013, 21.00 minutes

Claiming Our Voice is a short documentary film by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel sharing the stories of Andolan, an organization founded and led by South Asian immigrant women low-wage workers as a means to support each other and collectively organize against exploitative work conditions. The film follows the women as they create, rehearse and refine acts for their first popular multi-lingual theater performance, directed by YaliniDream. Claiming Our Voice seeks to break community silence by allowing women to (literally) set the stage for how their stories will be told.

crave facebook profile photo

CRAVE: An Original Series by Aneesh Sheth, 2015, 16.02 minutes

Maggie is an actress trying to make her mark in show business and her secret, being transgender, is her greatest asset or her biggest liability on any given day. She’s lucky to have the support and love of her two best friends, Bobbi, a gay man stuck in an abusive relationship and Karen, a military wife stuck in a loveless marriage when her husband Mark returns from a deployment in Afghanistan. And just when things couldn’t get any harder, Maggie’s estranged sister shows up, pregnant, seeking support from Maggie, the sibling she abandoned years ago.

Presenting partners for New Films 2015. :  3rdi NYBrooklyn Brewery and Kettle Corn NYC.

SAWCC’s events are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Around Town: The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture “Cultural Week in New York 2015″

AFAC Cultural Week in New York, 20-26 September 2015

The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC), with the support of the Ford Foundation, proudly launches “AFAC Cultural Week in New York 2015″ from September 20-26. As part of the week, a series of AFAC-funded narrative films, documentaries and shorts will be screened at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the work of two leading photographers will be exhibited at Brooklyn’s Photoville festival, and AFAC grantees will present their projects at Aperture and Artists Space.

The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture supports independent cultural production in the Arab region, promotes cultural exchange and encourages patronage and philanthropy for arts and culture.

View the full program of the AFAC Cultural Week

MOMA Ticket information

(All Film Screenings will be followed by a 20 minute Q&A Session)

THURSDAY | SEPT. 24, 2015

And on Different Note (24 min) Mohammad Shawky Hassan | Short Experimental | Egypt |2015
Out on the Street (71 min) Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly | Documentary | Egypt |2015

The Valley (135 min), Ghassan Salhab | Feature Film | Lebanon | 2014

FRIDAY | SEPT. 25, 2015
Challat of Tunis (89 min) Kaother Ben Hania | Documentary | Tunisia | 2013

Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem
 (105 min)  Akram Zaatari | Documentary | Lebanon | 2015

SATURDAY | SEPT. 26, 2015
Nation Estate (9 min) Larissa Sansour | Short Narrative | Palestine | 2011
The Sea is Behind
 (88 min) Hicham Lasri | Feature Film | Morocco | 2015

Silvered Water (92 min) Ossama Mohammad | Documentary | Syria | 2014

SUNDAY | SEPT. 27, 2015
Challat of Tunis 
(89 min)
Kaother Ben Hania | Documentary | Tunisia | 2013

And on Different Note (24 min) Mohammad Shawky Hassan|Short Experimental| Egypt |2015
Out on the Street (71 min) Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly|Documentary| Egypt |2015

The Valley (135 min), Ghassan Salhab | Feature Film | Lebanon | 2014

MONDAY | SEPT. 28, 2015, 4:00pm

Silvered Water (92 min) Ossama Mohammad | Documentary | Syria | 2014


Nation Estate (9 min) Larissa Sansour | Short Narrative | Palestine | 2011
The Sea is Behind
 (88 min) Hicham Lasri | Feature Film | Morocco | 2015

Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem (105 min)  Akram Zaatari | Documentary | Lebanon | 2015

Silvered Water
Ossama Mohammad|Documentary|Syria|2014
In Syria, every day, YouTubers film then die; others kill then film. In Paris, driven by my inexhaustible love for Syria, I find that I can only film the sky and edit the footage posted on YouTube. From within the tension between my estrangement in France and the revolution, an encounter happened. A young Kurdish woman from Homs began to chat with me, asking: “If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?” Silvered Water is the story of that encounter.

Out On the Street
Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly|Documentary|Egypt|2015
Out on the Street is a film about a group of workers from one of Egypt’s working class neighborhoods, Helwan. In the film ten working-class men participate in an acting workshop. Through the rehearsals, stories emerge of factory injustice, police brutality, courts that fabricate criminal charges, and countless tales of corruption and exploitation by their capitalist employers. On a rooftop studio overlooking the heart of Cairo – presented as a space between fact and fiction – the participants move in and out of character as they shape the performance that engages their daily realities. Out in the Street interweaves scenes from the workshop, fictional performances, and mobile phone footage shot by a worker intended as evidence for the courts to stop the destruction of his workplace. This hybrid approach aims to engage a collective imaginary, situating the participants and spectators within a broader social struggle.

Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem
Akram Zaatari |Documentary|Lebanon|2015
Partly a study of a photographer’s studio practice (Hashem el Madani) in the mid twentieth century and
partly an exploration of the essence of archives today, this film tries to understand how this mode of producing images functioned in the lives of communities it served, how it ceased
 to exist, and what it had led to. It is a reflection on making images, on an industry of image making, on age and on the life that remains and continues to grow in an archive.

And on a Different Note

Mohammad Shawky Hassan|Short Experimental|Egypt|2015
Today in this house nothing happens, nor does it in the homes of others. The chronology of events is obscured, subversive noise is obliterated, elucidation impossible and language futile. All that remains is a soundscape perpetually occupied by self-proclaimed patriots, and scattered spaces carved by the rhythm of everyday life, all conspiring to maintain the status quo while hiding the humming background noise of the world. And on a Different Note is a navigation of an attempt to carve out a personal space amid an inescapable sonic shield created primarily by prime time political talk shows with their indistinguishable, absurd, and at times undecipherable rhetoric/ noises. Equally repulsive and addictive, these noises travel across geographies gradually constituting an integral part of a self-created map of exile.

The Valley 
Ghassan Salhab | Feature Film | Lebanon | 2014
Following a car accident on a lone mountain road, a middle-aged man loses his memory. Drenched in blood, he continues to walk along the deserted path. Further down the road, he encounters people with engine trouble and helps them get their car running again. They are reluctant to leave him stranded, so they take him home to their large estate in the Bekaa valley, a place where production is not only agricultural, and a place he may never leave again.

Challat of Tunis 
(89 min)
Kaother Ben Hania | Documentary | Tunisia | 2013
In this eccentric, disturbing mockumentary, director Kaouther Ben Hania sets out to solve a mystery, speak truth to power and expose a culture of misogyny. Her film is inspired by a decade-old crime in Tunisia: an unknown man performed drive-by slashings of 11 women. The story springs from Hania’s attempt to portray the attacker on camera: in the course of auditions for the part, she meets Jallel, who proudly proclaims himself to be the slasher. What follows is a portrait of a preening, sexist creep and the culture of male entitlement that supports him. This includes the maker of a video game based on the slasher, with players aiming a motorcyclist through the street and gaining points for cutting unveiled females; a spurious device for determining a woman’s virginity by testing her urine; and Jallel’s purchase of a blow-up doll—the ideal partner for him.

The Sea is Behind
 (88 min)
Hicham Lasri | Feature Film | Morocco | 2015
The Sea is Behind takes place in another world, one that is black and white and grimy, following a man named Tarik who dresses as a woman and dances for weddings, an old Moroccan tradition called H’dya. The film, however, presents much more than the story of Tarik, offering a dystopian and dramatic insight into social and political realities in the Arab world. We watch the protagonist go through life with indifference, which as the story slowly unfolds, becomes disturbing.



• Exhibit: September 10-20 | PHOTOGRAPHY
Brooklyn Photoville Festival

Nathalie Naccache, “Our Limbo”
Omar Imam, “Live Love Refugee” at the Brooklyn Photoville Festival

Exhibit of works by two AFAC-Magnum Foundation Grantees at the Brooklyn Photoville Festival, in collaboration with the Magnum Foundation and the Prince Claus Fund

• Book Launch: September 22 | LITERARY PROJECTS
“Azrael’s Suicide” by Arthur Yak

Book launch of “Azrael’s Suicide”, accompanied by reading and discussion with Sudanese novelist, Arthur Yak.


About AFAC

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is the Arab region’s preferred resource for independent artists and cultural practitioners. Founded in 2007, AFAC is a unique grant-making institution that is accessible, transparent and professional. AFAC supports as broad and diversified a scope of critical thinkers, artists and social entrepreneurs of the Arab region as possible, with an emphasis on quality, creativity and relevance.


About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Through its office in Cairo, the foundation has been on the ground in the Middle East and North Africa since the early 1950s. The foundation’s support to arts and culture in the Arab region has enhanced the development of a new generation of 21st-century arts spaces and arts leadership that reflect the cultural richness and diversity of the region.

Armenian Activists Now 2! March to Democracy

ARMENIAN ACTIVISTS NOW 2! by Robert Davidian

Documentary | USA | 2014 |71 min | English with Armenian subtitles

Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker

Following Armenia’s 2013 presidential election, civic activism and political involvement increased more than ever before. In this film, we hear directly from citizen activists who rose to expose massive, systemic election fraud. We encounter ideas and plans to build a new government as Armenians continue their march to democracy. This film transports viewers to a time and place in recent Armenian history where leaders, citizen activists and everyday people from all walks of life — in the streets, cafes, polling stations, and public spaces – and in cities and towns across Armenia, discuss and contemplate the future of their country’s political and social landscape.

To watch the trailer,click here.

Robert Davidian is an Armenian American documentary filmmaker specializing in human rights. In 2012, he completed Armenian Activists NOW! Birth of a Movement. The same year, he produced four short documentaries with the Tufenkian Foundation: Domestic Violence in Armenia produced for The Women’s Support Center; Mining in Armenia; Army in Reality; and This City Belongs To Us. In 2014, he produced Armenian Activists NOW 2! March to Democracy about presidential election fraud. His work also includes shows, news features, EPKs, promotional and educational videos for networks from MTV and Discovery to the Oxygen Network and BBC, and corporations such as Toyota, Deloite, Sony and Nike.

Danielle Zach is Acting Director of Human Rights Studies at The City College of New York, CUNY and Frances S. Patai Postdoctoral Fellow in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies at The City College Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the Center for Worker Education. She is a Senior Editorial Associate and Research Fellow at The CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, and Visiting Scholar of Irish Studies at New York University. Her research interests span civil wars and violence, social movements, immigration, and transnationalism, and human rights and global governance. She is co-author Burden-sharing Multilevel Governance: A Study of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (OEF, 2013) and is currently working on a manuscript on diaspora-insurgent transnationalism.

Docu Screening: THE WANTED 18 by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan

Presented with Center for Palestine Studies and Columbia School of the Arts

THE WANTED 18 by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan

Documentary | Canada, France, Palestine | 2014 | 75 min | Arabic, English and Hebrew with subtitles

See official trailer.

Screening followed by a conversation with Amer Shomali, co-director, and Dr. James Schamus, Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia School of the Arts.

Free and open to the public

Through a clever mix of stop motion animation and interviews, The Wanted 18 recreates an astonishing true story: the Israeli army’s pursuit of 18 cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared “a threat to the national security of the state of Israel.” In response to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a group of people from the town of Beit Sahour decide to buy 18 cows and to establish an independent dairy industry during the First Intifada. Their venture is so successful that the collective farm becomes a landmark, and the cows local celebrities – until the Israeli army takes note and declares that the farm is an illegal security threat. Consequently, the dairy is forced to go underground, the cows continuing to produce their “Intfida milk” with the Israeli army in relentless pursuit. Recreating the story of the “wanted 18″ from the perspectives of the Beit Sahour activists, Israeli military officialls and the cows, Palestinian artist Amer Shomali and veteran Canadian director Paul Cowan create an enchanting, inspirational tribute to the ingenuity and power of grassroots activism.

The Wanted 18 premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. It was awarded Best Documentary at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the 2014 Carthage Film Festival in Tunis and the 2015 Traverse City Film Festival.


Amer Shomali uses fine art, digital media and technology as sociopolitical tools for change. After studying at the Van Art School in Canada, he completed an MFA in Animation at Bournemouth, United Kingdom. One of the founders of Zan Studios in Ramallah, Amer works as an animator and illustrator of children’s books, posters, and multimedia productions. His work has been exhibited in galleries across the Middle East and Europe.

Paul Cowan is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker who has spent the bulk of his career with the Film Board of Canada. His strength is creative documentaries that combine documentary techniques with evocative images and recreations. Cowan was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature for Going the Distance, a documentary about the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He directed the controversial docudrama The Kid Who Couldn’t Miss and served as cinematographer on the Oscar-winning Flamenco at 5:15. He is the winner of the Genie Award for his documentary Westray, on the Westray mining disaster.

Professor James Schamus is an award-winning screenwriter (The Ice Storm) and producer (Brokeback Mountain), and former CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company. He is the author of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud: The Moving Word, published by the University of Washington Press and is currently working on another book, My Wife is a Terrorist: Lessons in Storytelling from the Department of Homeland Security, for Harvard University Press. He recently directed the short documentary That Film About Money and is making his feature directorial debut with his adaptation of Philip Roth’s Indignation. He earned his BA, MA and PhD. in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Documentary Screening: Forget Baghdad

Alwan for the Arts & 3rd i NY present FORGET BAGHDAD by Samir

Documentary |Switzerland |2003 |111 min | Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles

For trailer, click here.

Screening followed by discussion with Director

Forget Baghdad tells the forgotten story of four Baghdadi-Jews, all former members of the Iraqi communist party, who were forced to emigrate at Israel’s founding. The film explores what it’s like to change your country, forget your culture and language and “become the enemy of your own past.” All four protagonists are self-described Mizrahi living in a country dominated by Ashkenazi Jews. All express varying degrees of nostalgia for the past and cultural alienation in the present. The divided identities of these four men – Jews in Baghdad and Arabs in Israel – depict a much larger tale of global, political and cultural disorder.


Samir is an Iraqi-born writer, director and producer living in Switzerland. He attended the School of Design in Zurich, completed an apprenticeship as a typographer and subsequently trained as a cameraman with Condor Films. He has worked as a freelance director and cinematographer as well as a writer and member of Videoladen Zurich. Since 1994, he has helmed the Dschoint Ventschr film production company, where he has directed and/or co-produced over ninety features and documentaries addressing cross-cultural themes.

Selected Filmography

  • Iraqi Odyssey (2014). Switzerland’s entry for the 2016 Academy Awards in the foreign language film category
  • Escher, the angels and the Fibonacci numbers (2010)
  • Snow White (2005).
  • Interim Language (2003).
  • Forget Baghdad (2002)
  • Norman Plays Golf (2001).

The Dream of Shahrazad with Human Rights Watch Film Festival

3rd i NY Co-Presentation at the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FESTIVAL

THE DREAM OF SHAHRAZAD by Francois Verster

Documentary | South Africa/Egypt/Jordan/France/The Netherlands | 2014 | 107 min |English, Arabic and Turkish with English subtitles

Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Francois Verster

Filmmaker Francois Verster explores how music and storytelling can serve as an outlet for citizens to process political upheaval. Using the metaphor of Shahrazad–the princess in the classic tale of The 1001 (Arabian) Nights who saves lives by telling stories to the murderous Sultan Shahriyar–and filmed before, during, and after the so-called Arab Spring, the film weaves together a web of music, politics, and storytelling to explore the ways in which creativity and politics coincide in response to oppression.

A series of unforgettable characters all draw their inspiration from The 1001 (Arabian) Nights, including a conductor who uses Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade suite as a tool for Istanbul political education, a young female Lebanese internet activist, a visual artist who finds his own “dream of Shahrazad”, and a Cairo theater troupe who turn the testimonies of mothers of the Egyptian revolution martyrs into storytelling performances. This richly kaleidoscopic film is at once observational documentary, concert film, political meditation, and visual translation of an ever-popular symphonic and literary classic.

Trailer and Tickets: Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Dream of Shahrazad Website


Filmmakers’s Bio
Director, Producer, Camera, Editor

Francois Verster is a multiple-award winning independent documentary filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa. His films generally follow “creative” observational approaches to social issues and have all won local and international awards and been broadcast around the world. He has taught documentary directing and film studies and his films have been used in various seminars on the intersection between creative documentary and social activism.


About Human Rights Watch (HRW) & the HRW Film Festival

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep rooted change and fight to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. Through our Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.

The HRW Film Festival currently screens in over 20 cities around the world throughout the year. The festival’s programming committee operates out of the New York office to screen more than 500 films each year. Through a rigorous vetting process, that includes review by Human Rights Watch’s programmatic staff, the festival chooses approximately 40 films each year to participate in our various festivals. It is then up to the particular city and its programming committee to choose films from this final selection for their specific festival.

In selecting films for the festival, Human Rights Watch concentrates equally on artistic merit and human rights content. The festival encourages filmmakers around the world to address human rights subject matter in their work and presents films from both new and established international filmmakers. Though the festival rules out films that contain unacceptable inaccuracies of fact, we do not bar any films on the basis of a particular point of view.

Oscar-Nominated Bangladeshi Feature Film “Television” by Mostafa Sarwar Farooki

Alwan and 3rd i NY Present Award-Winning, Oscar-Nominated Feature Bangladeshi Comedy Drama Film 

Bangladesh | 2012 | 106 minutes
Bengali with English subtitles

Director: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
Producer: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
Scriptwriter: Anisul Hoque, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
Cinematographer: Golam Maola Nabir
Editor: Rajon Khaled
 Ayub Baccu

 Chanchal Chowdhury, Mosharrof Karim, Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Shahir Kazi Huda

As a leader of the local community, Chairman Amin bans every kind of image in his water-locked village in rural Bangladesh since he considers it to be un-Islamic. He even goes on to claim that imagination is also sinful since it gives one the license to infiltrate into any prohibited territory. But change is a desperate wind that is difficult to resist by shutting the window. The tension between this traditional window and modern wind grows to such an extent that it starts to leave a ripple effect on the lives of a group of typically colorful, eccentric, and emotional people living in that village. But at the very end of the film, Television, which he hated so much, comes to the rescue and helps Chairman Amin reach a transcendental state where he and his God are unified. A new twist to the story makes him embrace IMAGE and IMAGINATION.

Official Trailer


“Television’s theme of generational conflict and the friction between tradition and modernity play out against a refreshingly “normal” view of Bangladesh that doesn’t rely on crushing poverty, draconian customs and a post-tsunami wasteland. Golam Maola Nabir’s bright, colorful cinematography and geometric compositions that compartmentalize the characters efficiently creates an optimistic and relatable tone that makes the film’s comic moments more satiric than if they had been shot in the drab style more recognizable from the region’s cinema.”

- Elizabeth Kerry, The Hollywood Reporter

Festivals & Awards

Closing film; Busan International Film Festival 2012 (World Premiere). Nominated; Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography, Asia Pacific Screen Awards (2013). Nominated; Lino Brocka Grand Prize, Cinemanila International Film Festival (2012). Nominated; Bangladesh’s entry for the 86th Academy Award Foreign Language Category (2014). Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Asia Pacific Screen Awards (2013). Winner, City of Rome Award for Best Asian Feature Film (Jury), Best Feature Film and Audience Award from Asiatica Film Festival (2013). Winner, Golden Hanuman Award, Jogja Asian Film Festival (2013). Winner, NETPAC Award Kolkata International Film Festival (2013). Winner, Special Mention Award, Muhr Asia and Africa Category, Dubai International Film Festival (2012).

Director’s Biography

Mostofa Sarwar Farooki could be the next South-east Asian filmmaker to break out”, The Hollywood Reporter wrote in the review of his film “Television”. Variety’s Jay Weissberg wrote: “Mostofa Sarwar Farooki is a key exemplar of Bangladeshi new wave cinema movement.”

Farooki is a contemporary Bangladeshi film director and screenwriter. He is also the pioneer of an avant-garde filmmakers’ movement called Chabial. His fourth feature Television was the closing film at Busan International Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize in Asia Pacific Screen Award 2013 in addition to 5 more international awards from Dubai, Jogja-Indonesia, Asiatica Film Festival in Roma, and Kolkata. Ant Story is his fifth feature which got nominated for Golden Goblet Awards and Muhr Asia-Africa Awards. It is also in competition for nomination for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2014.

Director’s Filmography
Ant Story; Feature Fiction, 2013
Television; Feature Fiction, 2012
Ok Cut; Short Fiction; 2010
Third Person Singular Number; Feature Fiction, 2009
Bachelor; Feature Fiction, 2003
Made in Bangladesh; Feature Fiction, 2007

Celebrating Armenian Culture: “Embers” by Tamara Stepanyan + Short Films by Emerging Armenian Filmmakers


Documentary Feature
EMBERS by Tamara Stepanyan
2012| Lebanon/Qatar/Armenia | 76 mins
Armenian & Russian with English subtitles

BIFF Mecenat Award (Best Documentary Award) at Busan International Film Festival, South Korea, 2012; Jury’s Award-35th International Women’s Film Festival of Créteil, France, 2013; Special Prize as Best documentary at Golden Apricot International Film Festival, Armenia, 2013

Short Films Program
LEVON by Anahid Yahjian (06:59)
 by Anahid Yahjian (04:25)

In commemoration of the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, Alwan for the Arts and 3rd i NY present a special series showcasing the enduring arts and culture of the Armenians, who share a collective tragedy, and who have become an integral part and active voice in the tapestry of world cultures, specifically that of the Middle East and the Arab world, where distinct and complex Armenian communities have taken root and been nourished over the last century.


EMBERS (Previous Title: May 9) by Tamara Stepanyan
Documentary | 2012 | Lebanon/Qatar/Armenia | 76 mins
Armenian & Russian with English subtitles
With EMBERS, Tamara Stepanyan’s first feature-length documentary, the director seeks to honour the memory of her late grandmother, whom she was named after. Stepanyan visits the elder Tamara’s hometown in Armenia, where she spends time with her grandmother’s circle of friends, who discuss their memories of daily life with Tamara, bringing to light their ideological and political viewpoints in the process. As the conversations progress, a dialogue emerges between past and present – between the Tamara of today and the Tamara of two generations ago, whose life was shaped by her experiences during World War II.

Despite the absence of the film’s central subject, her presence is deeply felt through her impact on those who survived her. Stepanyan’s mourning the loss of someone close to her heart is acutely apparent; here, she faces down that sorrow with a bright tribute to a wonderful woman.

Official Trailer

About Tamara Stepanyan
Tamara Stepanyan was born in Armenia. During the breakdown of the Soviet Union, she moved to Lebanon with her parents in 1994, at a time when the country was coming out of the Civil War, and has been working and residing in Lebanon since. She graduated in Communication Arts with an emphasis on Radio/TV and Film from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2005. Stepanyan participated in film workshops in Armenia, South Korea and Denmark. Her works include “My Beirut”, a video/photo/audio installation that was part of Badguer I in 2009, and recently “Little Stones”, a documentary shot in Denmark in 2010. This film participated at Né a Beyrouth, Ayam Beirut al Cinemaiya, CPH DOX as part of Film School and IMS program (Denmark) and Golden Apricot International Film Festival (Armenia). Her latest film is a fiction experimental film called “February 19”.


LEVON by Anahid Yahjian
Levon is a 60-year-old rollerblader living exuberantly in the post-Soviet landscape of Yerevan, Armenia. He is aware of the struggles his people face, and understands why they are emigrating in droves. But that doesn’t change his enduring belief in and contentment with the simple magic of being alive.

FOUR WALLS by Anahid Yahjian
As the sun sets, a beastly figure unravels in the highlands. Shot in Shadow Hills, California.This dance was originally performed as part of DEAR ARMEN, an audience-interactive theater experience based on the memoirs of early-20th century Armenian performer and poet, Armen Ohanian.

Writer and filmmaker Anahid Yahjian was born in Bulgaria and raised in Los Angeles. Since graduating with honors from Occidental College with a degree in comparative literature and film studies, she has split her time between Yerevan, Sofia, Los Angeles, and New York City. She served as crowdfunding platform ONEArmenia’s media and content manager and creative director from 2012-2014. Her work has been published, screened, and awarded internationally and watched virally online.

This event was made possible with additional support from the AGBU Performing Arts Department.

Celebrating Armenian Culture: “The River Ran Red” by J. Michael Hagopian + Short Films by Emerging Armenian Filmmakers

Documentary Feature
THE RIVER RAN RED by J. Michael Hagopian
Documentary | 2009 | United States | 60 mins

Short Films Program
THE FRAME by Ophelia Harutyunyan (10:47)
 by Anahid Yahjian (03:15)

In commemoration of the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, Alwan for the Arts and 3rd i NY present a special series showcasing the enduring arts and culture of the Armenians, who share a collective tragedy, and who have become an integral part and active voice in the tapestry of world cultures, specifically that of the Middle East and the Arab world, where distinct and complex Armenian communities have taken root and been nourished over the last century.


THE RIVER RAN RED by J. Michael Hagopian

Winner of the Best International Historical Documentary of the New York International Film and Video Festival and Second Place (History and Biography) of the U.S. International Film and Video Festival

Part of The Witnesses Trilogy, a series of three films based on nearly 400 professionally filmed interviews taken since 1967, The River Ran Red depicts the search for survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 through the testimony of 30 eyewitnesses. Drawing from the rich texture of these intimate interviews, the film is the crown jewel of the trilogy and is a heart-rendering saga of a people in a long forced journey towards extermination, with the causes of the genocide discussed in the context of Armenian and Turkish history.

From the deportation orders of Armenians, reports by American missionaries and consuls, the treatment of orphaned children and their exile in the desert, forced conversions to Islam, loss of identity and secret telegrams, the viewer is taken from the waters of the legendary Euphrates River to the burning deserts of Syria, the final resting place of the 1,500,000 Armenians who perished.

Official Trailer

About J. Michael Hagopian
In summer of 1915, when the Turkish soldiers rampaged through the town of Kharbert, Michael J. Hagopian’s mother hid her baby in a mulberry bush and prayed to God that the Turkish soldiers would not find him. Mother and baby survived, and eventually made it to Fresno, California. Hagopian received an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and after receiving a doctorate in international relations from Harvard University, he went into cinema and founded the Atlantis Films Company, which produced over fifty documentary films on ethnic minorities and foreign lands. He won critical acclaim, including two Emmys for the writing and production of The Forgotten Genocide, the first full-length feature on the Armenian Genocide, that encompassed nearly 400 witness interviews and twenty years of research. In 1979, Hagopian founded the non-profit Armenian Film Foundation dedicated to preserving the visual and personal histories of the witnesses to the first genocide of the 20th century.


THE FRAME by Ophelia Harutyunyan
Set in Armenia, The Frame is a story about an old, stubborn Armenian man, living in a village and fighting a sickness. He needs help, but that’s not if you ask him. He thinks that he is very well capable of taking care of himself and he refuses to bring his only daughter into this and keeps this as a secret from her, until the day he realizes that his condition is getting worse. The day the daughter visits, he is set to tell her everything, but she brings her own secret to the table, forcing him to make a very hard decision.

Born in 1989, in Yerevan, Armenia, Ophelia Harutyunyan grew up around the arts in all its forms. For some reason, Harutyunyan thought that art could only be a hobby and not a profession, so she studied law at Yerevan State University and completed her master studies in Sweden. She received her LL.M. degree from Stockholm University, but the most valuable thing she learned in Swedenwast that it it is never late to pursue one’s dreams. So after returning home, she started pursuing a career in filmmaking, beginning with an internship in a film production company, different film workshops, and volunteering at film festivals. In 2011, she started working at the Civilitas Foundation’s Internet Channel as a Production Manager and Assignment Desk Editor. In 2012, she was accepted at Columbia University’s School of the Arts Creative Producing MFA program, and continues to make short films as she pursues her studies.

THE JAILOR by Anahid Yahjian
Set to the original manuscript of Sylvia Plath’s poem of the same name, The Jailor was spontaneously shot over the course of three days as childhood friends Armen Harootun and Anahid Yahjian drove out from their native Los Angeles up the California coast toward San Francisco. With nothing but two cameras, a trunk full of various fabrics and objects, and Plath’s words to guide them, the filmmakers relied on serendipitous shifts in light, weather, environment and their own moods to build an abstract visual narrative about an empathic prisoner and her captor’s ego. No location scouting was done—everything and anything that came across their path is fair game to be filmed.

Writer and filmmaker Anahid Yahjian was born in Bulgaria and raised in Los Angeles. Since graduating with honors from Occidental College with a degree in comparative literature and film studies, she has split her time between Yerevan, Sofia, Los Angeles, and New York City. She served as crowdfunding platform ONEArmenia’s media and content manager and creative director from 2012-2014. Her work has been published, screened, and awarded internationally and watched virally online.


Screening of “Arwad” by Samer Najari and Dominique Chila

ARWAD Directed by Samer Najari and Dominique Chila
Canada, 2013, 105 min (Arabic/French with English subtitles)

Directors Samer Najari and Dominique Chila convey the story of an immigrant from the perspective of Ali, his wife Gabrielle and his mistress Marie. This unconventional and melancholic film strays from chronicles of the current Syrian crisis and focuses instead on unearthing the struggles from within. A sincere, soberly filmed, balanced and consummate debut, Najari and Chila give their characters room for emotional development and exploration.


A deep feeling of nostalgia takes hold of Ali following his mother’s death, causing him to slowly drift away from his family. Although Gabrielle senses her husband’s distress, she fails to console him. In an attempt to reconnect with his roots, Ali travels to Arwad, an island located off the Syrian coast. Leaving Montreal and his family behind, he is accompanied by Marie, his mistress, who is discovering the island for the first time. After an unexpected turn of events, the confrontation between Gabrielle and Marie becomes inevitable.


Samer Najari and Dominique Chila

Director SAMER NAJARI was born in Moscow in 1976 to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother. At 18, he entered Damascus University to study architecture. Having arrived in Canada in 1994, he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film production at Concordia University in 2000. In 2001, he was selected for a two-year residency at the Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Le Fresnoy, France. Back in Canada, he then made two short films, both of which won prizes in various international festivals. “Arwad” is his first feature film and is co-directed by Dominique Chila. Previous short films by Samer Najari include “La neige cache l’ombre des figuiers” (2010) and “Le petit oiseau va sortir” (2006).
Director DOMINIQUE CHILA was born in Montréal in 1974 from a Canadian mother and an Italian father. She studied photography before moving into film. In 1997, she started her BFA in Film Production at Concordia University. After obtaining her Bachelor’s in 2000, she was awarded a two year residency at the Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Le Fresnoy in France. Since returning to Montréal in 2003, Dominique Chila has been working closely with Samer Najari in creating a number of short films. “Arwad” is her first feature-length film and is co-directed by Samer Najari.