Notes From Hairenik
July 18, 2005
Tonight I saw the last film screening of the Golden Apricot Film Festival at the Moscow Cinema. The film was called The Fallen, and was directed by German filmmaker Fred Kelemen. It was shot in Riga, Latvia, and the drab, stark setting proved to be perfect for the scenario of the film.

Filmed entirely in black and white—a medium that thankfully seems to persist in an age of cinematic digital razzle-dazzle—the story is of a lonely archivist who wanders the empty city streets every night. When crossing a bridge he sees and makes eye contact with a woman who is ready to throw herself off. He continues along and a few moments later hears a splash, then a cry for help, but she is nowhere to be found in the river below. The rest of the film depicts the man’s obsession with finding out who the woman was and what compelled her to put an end to her own life. He discovers that she left her handbag in a bar and convinces the barman to give it to him, claiming that it belongs to his girlfriend. In it he finds discarded drafts of suicide notes addressed to her lover as well as a ticket from a film developing shop. Then he carefully studies each of the film slides in his apartment in an attempt to gain the slightest clue into her personality, her desires, and even her mental state. The film is slow going with minimal dialogue, and its predominant darkness gives it a neo film-noir feel, not to mention the one-man-against-all-odds premise. Incidentally, the film was subtitled in English but was badly dubbed in Armenian, seemingly live, by a young woman speaking into a microphone in the projection booth or who knows where.

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to see any of the Armenian films screened, as most of them were shown during the daytime. Due to work and personal commitments, there was no way for me to go see them.

However, it has been my intention for some time to simply go out and start purchasing, then reviewing Soviet-era Armenian films. I have reviewed two more recent films already, “Herostratus” and “Symphony of Silence,” and I was impressed with both of them. There seems to be a revitalization of the Armenian film industry judging from all the Armenian directors that had their work exhibited during the festival, so we’ll have to see what comes out of it in the next five to 10 years. As a matter of fact, I just recently completed my latest short film titled “Elements of Eternity” and have already submitted it to a film festival.