'Lost Birds' Finds a Home at the Arpa International Film Festival

Don Q. Hannah
Ela Alyamac, Sylvia Minassian and Aren Perdeci

Co-writer/co-director Ela Alyamac said they’d tried to make a film that "expressed the tragedy of the Armenian exile but tell it through the eyes of innocent children."

For a fest that’s named after an Armenian river and has its roots in L.A.’s Armenian community, the Arpa International Film Festival has become remarkably cosmopolitan.

At the fest’s Egyptian Theatre Aug. 13 opening night, founder Sylvia Minassian said 18 years ago ARPA “started small but now we’re recognized by filmmakers internationally.”

She pointed to submissions from Afghanistan, Jamaica, Serbia and Albania as examples of the fest’s range. "These are countries that usually don’t get their films shown internationally because other festivals don’t give them a chance," said Minassian. "We give them a chance."

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s former president Dr. Aida Takla O'Reilly said she came because she’d met the filmmakers behind the opening night movie, Lost Birds, at a conference in Moscow and was "impressed by their persistence and tenacity" in getting the film made. "They were just starting out and they kept at it for five years," said O'Reilly.

At the pre-screening reception in the Egyptian’s courtyard, co-writer/co-director Ela Alyamac said they’d tried to make a film that "expressed the tragedy of the Armenian exile but tell it through the eyes of innocent children. They don’t know what happened but they know they can’t find their mother. But it’s more a search for a life that’s gone."

Her co-writer/co-director Aren Perdeci said they wanted to make a film "so people would know what was lost and tell it in a way that also the Turkish could relate to."

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