Florida Armenians Participate in Premier of Armenian-American Film “HERE” at Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival
By Tina Varjabedian
FLArmenians Miami Contributor
Ft. Lauderdale, FL – On Thursday, October 25, Cinema Paradiso premiered “HERE,” an Armenian-American film, at Ft. Lauderdale’s International Film Festival (FLIFF). Arsine Kaloustian-Rosenthal, Florida Armenians (FLArmenians) Communications Director, opened the program by introducing the Armenian culture and FLArmenians to the diverse audience in attendance. She explained that the Armenian community has been present in Florida for over 50 years and that St. David was the first Armenian Church in Florida. She added, “Today we have 5 churches and 2 mission parishes with approximately 30,000 Armenian-Americans across the great State of Florida.”
Kaloustian-Rosenthal then introduced local favorite, renowned Armenian musician Joe Zeytoonian of Harmonic Motion, who played cultural Armenian melodies on the Oud. The audience then asked Mr. Zeytoonian questions about the Oud instrument and about different Armenian songs and melodies. Mr. Zeytoonian warmly discussed details about the audience’s questions and the instrument, explaining that the Oud is a unique and ancient Armenian/Anatolian instrument that has been around since the 7th century.
The film HERE is shot entirely on Armenian soil and showcases the captivating and magnificent landscapes of Armenia. Although the film is primarily in English, it contains many segments throughout where the Armenian language is spoken with subtitles. HERE demonstrates various intense themes, the primary one being soul searching. The film displays the complex relationship between expatriate Armenian photographer Gadarine Najarian (Lubna Azabal) and satellite-mapping engineer Will Shepard (Ben Foster), who decide to continue their journey together, unknowing to where this decision can take them both personally and professionally. Inspired by the Armenian scenery displayed in the film, Arsine Kaloustian-Rosenthal expressed, “The film provided us a very intimate window into the landscape of Armenia – something many of us had never seen before. For a few hours, director Braden King transported us from the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival to the land of our ancestors. It was a lovely escape.”
When asked why he chose Armenia as the landscape for this film, director Braden King explained, “As I explored further, Armenia – its history, landscape, location, people and culture – became another collaborator, a third co-writer. When I visited for the first time in 2004, it was instantly clear that Armenia was the most precise lens through which to focus in on HERE’s story and themes. Within the first few hours of that very first trip, there was no place else to go.”
Watch and listen to Joe Zeytoonian on the Oud below:
Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Florida Armenians cordially invites you to a special evening for the premier of the Armenian-American film “HERE,” this Thursday, October 25th at Cinema Paradiso, the home of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). Director Braden King will be in attendance to meet guests and participants. FLArmenians will offer brief program immediately preceding the film’s premier.
Premier Thursday night 8:00 PM, Program begins at 7:30 PM. Also showing Friday night 8:00 PM & Saturday night 8:00 PM
Cinema Paradiso is located at 503 SE 6th St., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301. Driving directions, map and parking information can be found here.
Runtime: 126 min
Language: English & Armenian w/English sub-titles
Director: Braden King
Producer: Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Jeff Kalousdian, Julia
Cast: Ben Foster, Peter Coyote and Lubna Azabal
Will Shepard is an American satellite-mapping engineer contracted to create a new, more accurate survey of the country of Armenia. Within the industry, his solitary work – land-surveying satellite images to check for accuracy and resolve anomalies – is called “ground-truthing”. He’s been doing it on his own, for years, all over the world, but on this trip, his measurements are not adding up.
Will meets Gadarine Najarian at a rural hotel. Tough and intriguing, she’s an expatriate Armenian art photographer on her first trip back in ages, passionately trying to figure out what kind of relationship – if any – she still has with her home country and culture. Fiercely independent, Gadarine is struggling to resolve the life she’s led in Canada and Europe with the Armenian roots that run so deeply, if unconsciously, through her. There is an almost instant, unconscious bond between these two lone travelers; they impulsively decide to continue together. HERE tells the story of their unique journey and the dramatic personal transformations it leads each of them through.
Sponsored by Margaret Ahnert and featuring Special Guest, Director Braden King.
The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), founded in 1986, is dedicated to foreign and independent film. FLIFF annually showcases over 200 films from over 35 countries. A recipient of The Guiness World Record for the longest film festival in the world, FLIFF prides itself as being the friendly non-pretentious fest where access to filmmakers is basically unfiltered.
FLIFF takes programming throughout South Florida, including The Weston Foreign Film Series, The Bay Harbor Islands Family Festival, The Hollywood Arts Park screenings, among other satellite operations.
FLIFF also tours the State of Florida and Grand Bahama Island, partnering with The Daytona Beach Film Festival, The St Augustine Film Festival, The Amelia Island Film Festival, and FLIFF On-Location Grand Bahama Island. Filmmakers who submit to FLIFF will have their films considered for one or all of the above festivals, providing a bargain to budget stretched filmmakers.
Since 1998, over $1 million had been raised and invested in our year-round space, now known as Cinema Paradiso. Today, Cinema Paradiso operates year-round featuring foreign and independent film, student films, children’s movies, and serves as a mecca for just about every kind of arts event you can imagine. Benefits for other non-profits, poetry, dance, music, as well as corporate events, book signings and celebrity appearances take place in this versatile space.
The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and Cinema Paradiso are just two of the programs presented by The Broward County Film Society.