«We have created a network of film-makers»

Article, 20.09.2013

11.08.2013, Locarno

Armenian producer and director Hovhannes Galstyan presented Bonded Parallels at the Locarno Festival last August. This was an opportunity to return to the decisive role played by the SDC in his early career and to the development of Caucasian cinema.

With Bonded Parallels (2009), Hovhannes Galstyan established himself a model of success for an entire generation of film-makers. His film is the first international co-production to have emerged from the South Caucasus in the post-communist era, a striking fact that is enhanced by the artistic qualities of this feature film.

Bonded Parallels tells two love stories, one set in Norway during the Second World War, and the other in Armenia in 1988. After the film was screened to an enthusiastic audience outside the competition in Locarno last August, director Hovhannes Galstyan described how his journey began.

How did you begin your career in film-making in Armenia?
In short, I would say it was mainly thanks to the AVANTI cinema training project for film-makers and producers, funded by the SDC, that started it all for me, as well as for some other colleagues from my region. With the fall of the Soviet Union, all structures simply disappeared, including the film industry which, until then, had been largely subsidised along with the schools, production houses, distribution and many cinemas. Ten years ago when I learnt that the AVANTI project had been launched, I signed up and got the chance to develop further in this career.

What did you learn?
In 2003, the AVANTI programme gave me the chance to find a partner to work with and taught me how to make a film, from the initial script through to production. This knowledge allowed us to believe in ourselves, to become known, and opened the door to professional film-making. For me, it was a film school I would not have been able to go to before, and was like a bridge for us. We moved away from local cinema, which was something we could already do, and this led us to the other side, to the development of more serious cinema.

Bonded Parallels tells two love stories. ( © Parallels Film Production LLC)

What is the legacy of AVANTI?
After the AVANTI programme, another structure was put in place and things have changed, but it was not like before, mainly because of a lack of financial resources. From my perspective as an independent producer, the AVANTI programme was cut short before its time. If it had continued another three years, we would have been able to change the structure. I also explained this in a report which I sent to the people in charge of the project. Having said that, the new AVANTI generation is continuing to grow. A lot of us are also here at Locarno and we can share many things amongst ourselves. We support each other and have created a network of film-makers. Locarno will allow me to strengthen these ties that are essential for our work to continue.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I have a second film in the making. It is called Remission and we are currently in the pre-production phase. With my production company, Parallels Film Productions, we are working on two other feature films by Marine Zakaryan called Half Moon Bayand The Pheasant Hunter, as well as on another film by Turkish director Aren Perdeci, Lost Birds. The films that I am planning deal with the interpersonal relationships of human beings, individuals, how they live and what they feel. I am more interested in human feelings than social or political relations.