I am in Crete for a session of the Documentary (formerly Discovery) Campus. I run into Vardan Hovhannisyan with whom I have spent many fine moments around the films that he was/is producing or directing for his company in Jerevan, Armenia. With a good deal of charm and charisma, this Armenian filmmaker has established himself as a known, respected and colourful person in the documentary scene. His film “A Story about People in War and peace” went all over, won prizes – and the director travelled with the film to meet the audience and to understand the documentary market structure. I met him at Discovery Campus and again at Ex Oriente in 2007 where he with his director and colleague Inna Sahakyan presented and developed “The Last Tightrope Dancers in Europe” that is now in post-production. This film project was pitched at the East European Forum 2007 and later at the idfa Forum, but the real strong funding came not until this year from the ITVS and NHK. At a point when 80% of the film was shot! Here is the description of the film, that is also supported by YLE, SVT, TVP, ETV (Estonia), among others, and which is targeted for a premiere this coming autumn:
Zhora (76) and Knyaz (77) were once the most celebrated masters of tightrope dancing in Armenia. Today, they are the only surviving performers who can keep this ancient art alive against the current of contemporary society. Having been bitter rivals throughout their lives, a common objective has finally brought them together: to train the only student of tightrope dancing left in the country. Hovsep, a sixteen year old orphan boy, has to decide whether or not to accept the role of the last tightrope dancer in Armenia, in a society that has abandoned both him and the art of tightrope dancing.