Sunday, 13 April 2008

Best independent and arthouse cinema in Yerevan - National Gallery of Armenia

This is the best place for independent and arthouse cinema in Yerevan, from Pasolini to Fassbinder and other gems of cinematorgraphy, with regular Q&A sessions, thematic screenings, restrospectives, festivals. A rare pleasure. Highly recommend it! Screenings are normally held over weekends, but check out the programme from the National Gallery to get the full listings. You may also wish to enjoy permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Gallery.

National Gallery

When I was back in Yerevan over the New Year holidays few months ago, this cinema at the National Gallery of Armenia was one of the biggest discoveries for me. Imagine my shock (a pleasant shock!) when I saw their programme which included a screening of Pasolini's Salo. Salo is considered as one of the most controversial films ever made. It is still banned in many countries, and only recently has been released uncut in the UK. Although I've seen Salo few times, I decided that I have to experience it in Armenia, which seemed kind of surreal for me. Unfortunately, due to technical reasons (broken movie projector) they had to cancel the screening.

Melik Karapetyan, head of Film Programs Department at the National Gallery of Armenia is doing fantastic job and deserves our support. His programming could rival the best independent cinemas worldwide.

Current programme includes:

  • Great Women Artists / Artists of the 20th Century
  • Regional Silent Film Festival 4th Edition
  • Jan Svankmajer’s Film Retrospective
  • German Classic Cinema and Fassbinder’s Films

For up-to-date listings, check out ArmeniaInfo's "Calendar of Events". However, to make sure you do not miss anything, I'd rather suggest picking up a programme from the Gallery (artfully made). 


*photo via National Gallery of Armenia


grigor sargsyan said...

Some time ago there was a talk that they are restoring old soviet Armenian movies. Is this actually happening and if yes do you know if any of them have English subtitles?

grigor sargsyan said...

Do you know who is sponsoring this?

It makes me really happy to learn that Salo was shown in Armenia. Great surprise.

artmika said...

Grigor, I can only say that while in Yerevan this winter, I saw many old Soviet Armenian movies available in DVD format. This was great news for me, and I bought quite a few of them. Your point re English subtitles is very important. Unfortunately, hardly any of them have subtitles (there are one or two exceptions, but I can't remember titles). I assume it is because of lack of finances, but let’s hope that this vital issue for the popularisation of Armenian cinematography (some of them are world-class masterpieces and my all time favourites) will resolve.

I am not sure about the sponsors of this cinema, but when movie projector was broken, Melik (head of Film Programmes at the National Gallery) had hard time in finding support for it and had to cancel programmes for a while.

Azad said...

I have been to the screenings at the National Gallery several times and each time I have been surprised by the low level of attendance.
There was even once when I was one of the only two people present. In fact, there were 8-9 people there who left because a French film was being screened (video projected) without subtitles.
I think Melik is doing a good job but I wouldn’t call it fantastic. I am not sure if the format of the programming, the schedule of screening, and even the place are the most appropriate (the National Gallery of course sounds prestigious but …) . The “cinema” is poorly equipped, the sound system is outdated, few people would like to see a film on a Saturday or a Sunday morning, …
Melik usually succeeds in finding sponsors for printing the monthly program but that’s all. The films are from his personal collection.

artmika said...

I assume most of the points you mentioned (all valid!) are dependant on lack of finances. I suppose it is easier to find sponsors for printing the programme than for anything more substantial. Indie cinemas and films always struggle with it, and in Armenia you should add lots of other complications.

Even in London, during indie screenings you would rarely see full auditorium. But in this case one of the important reasons is a lack of info about it: most people whom I spoke with in Yerevan simply did not know about the existence of the cinema at the National Gallery.

Agree, timing is not the most convenient one, to say the least. Probably, it is due to museum opening hours, I would guess.

I wish we have more like this, and in better conditions, but I would still commend Melik for what he is doing under the circumstances.

If it would only be possible to find sponsors to establish in Armenia state-of-the-art independent cinema that would be like ‘dream coming true’ for me.

grigor sargsyan said...

thanks for the answer. I am organizing movie nights a lot and would love to show Armenian movies. I showed Parajanov but it wasn't very successful as you know he is hard.

By the way, another exciting thing is that Kino just released Parajanov's four masterpieces (all restored and the quality I believe is good). It is priced quite reasonably and it is highly recommended.

artmika said...

Love Parajanov. I have 7 of his films + documentary about him in my DVD collection, but I do not yet have The Confession - his last unfinished film. Will try to find it too. Have you seen it?

Azad said...

You are right. It is the problem of finances and the constraints that come with the place. I didn’t mean to question Melik’s qualifications or commitment. I just think he is capable to do a fantastic job but cannot do it under current circumstances.
I think the lack of an independent cinema – more kind of a film center rather than a purely screening place – in Yerevan is a serious problem. For a capital city that has only 2-3 cinemas and organises an international film festival, … it is even shameful.

grigor sargsyan said...

No, I got only 4 of Parajanov films. Hey where did you get 7 of them? I do envy you. Maybe you got them in Armenia.

Do you know about the Armenian director who just few months ago won
something at sundance? I think she is from Russia, though originally from Armenia. I don't remember her name, but I can find it. What I want to know is if you have seen her work.

Doe Mher have donation programs? I would definitely make donations. Not much but whatever I can.

artmika said...

:) yes, they are from Armenia.

I know about that Russian Armenian director who won a prize at Sundance, but unfortunately have not seen her film, would love to.

Very kind of you re donation. Unfortunately, I do not know if there is any formal donation programme available. If find out more, will post it.