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HOLLYWOOD—Arpa International Film Festival (AIFF) has unveiled the full lineup of films being showcased this year at the historic Egyptian Theatre from November 3 to 5. This year’s 20th anniversary highlights include a diverse range of films that explore themes such as genocide, war, and LGBTQ issues. The festival will also present thought-provoking shorts, as well a critically acclaimed thriller and a French masterpiece on the life of pop icon Dalida.
Opening night on Friday, November 3 will kick off with a special reception and screening of DALIDA, a biopic intimately capturing the true story of acclaimed Egyptian-born music icon Dalida, who gained celebrity in the 50s, singing in French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Italian. Her dazzling 30-year career was marked by tragic events, including her very own suicide in 1987 which forever immortalized her iconic image as a diva and renowned singer.
Saturday evening’s centerpiece program and reception will showcase Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning director Joe Berlinger’s powerful documentary Intent to Destroy, partially shot on the set of Terry George’s epic film The Promise (starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon). Berlinger’s film takes an unwavering look at the Armenian Genocide. Historians, scholars, and high-profile filmmakers come together in this cinematic exploration of the tangled web of responsibility that has driven a century of denial by the Turkish government and its strategic allies. Director/screenwriter Eric Nazarian will moderate a Q&A after the screening, with Joe Berlinger, Serj Tankian and Eric Esrailian.
Following Intent to Destroy on Saturday night will be a screening of Stephen C. Sepher’s (The Heist) Dead on Arrival starring Emmy-nominated Billy Flynn (Days of Our Lives). Dead on Arrival, inspired by the 1950 classic noir thriller D.O.A., exposes audiences to a dark world of sex, corruption and murder with Billy Flynn’s character struggling to save his life within less than 24 hours. The cast includes actor Nazo Bravo of Vigilante Diaries and Southland.
Other noteworthy films being featured throughout the day on Saturday include Nikolay and Sergey Sarkisov’s Krasny, a Russian-Georgian production set in the south of post-revolutionary Russia. The film tells the story of a noble woman, a red commissar and a Cossack whose paths intertwine in a most unexpected way. Earlier in the day, festivalgoers will have the opportunity to see Pinsky, a film about a young woman who loses her girlfriend and her grandfather in the same day and moves back in with her authoritarian Russian grandmother who is determined to marry her granddaughter off to a nice Jewish boy. The lead character, Sophia Pinsky, ultimately finds her way to a weekly open mic night, where on a whim she gets on stage and discovers there’s actually an audience for her Queer-Russian-Jewish-American sense of humor. The film captures the struggle between Sophia and her grandmother in an effort to define loyalty and love.
Two additional films being screened on Saturday are The Liberation of Skopje and H.O.M.E..The first tells the story of cruelty of war, poverty and suffering during the occupation and liberation of what is modern-day Macedonia’s capital city of Skopje during World War II. The horrors of war are portrayed through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy whose father is away fighting in the partisan army, while his mother develops a special relationship with a German officer. H.O.M.E. is a film woven of two stories exploring urban alienation and meaningful encounters through the lens of a disconnected city in constant motion. One story revolves around a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome who seeks refuge in the underground labyrinth of NYC. The other follows a gambling Ecuadorian livery driver & a Chinese woman desperate to get home to her sick child.
Highlights from Sunday’s lineup include three social impact films – Apricot Groves, Helena’s Law, The Heart of Nuba – all of which bring much needed awareness to LGBT issues, atrocities in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and the essence of good and evil. Apricot Groves is a beautiful LGBTQ-inflected film about family, faith, brotherhood, and love. The debut feature was written and directed by Tehran-based Pouria Heidary Oureh, who masterfully tells the story of a transmasculine young man by the name of Aram who travels to Armenia from the United States where he has lived all his life. Aram finds himself in Armenia to propose marriage to an Armenian girl he met in America. He and his brother hit the road between Armenia and Iran, with the film skillfully layering subtle hints among their words, looks, and deeds.
Helena’s Law is a Czech documentary focusing on a police officer, as well as other key players in a case. The resulting film is a mosaic that says less about the case or its background than it does about the people who exist on the edge of the law, and about their thoughts and motivations. Filmmaker Petra Nesvačilová finds herself acting in her movie, leading her to consider questions related to the essence of crime and of good and evil in general.
Kenneth A. Carlson’s masterpiece The Heart of Nuba profiles the courageous and selfless efforts of Dr. Tom Catena, the sole doctor of a million patients in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Last June Tom Catena was recognized as Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People. The film’s executive producer is Maria Shriver.
Nominated films from this year’s festival will be recognized at the 20th Annual Arpa International Film Festival Awards Gala being held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Sunday, November 5. The star-studded evening will also honor Academy Award-winning director Terry George, acclaimed actor Carl Weathers, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris and late music icon Chris Cornell with special awards and tributes. The evening will feature special performances by theremin virtuoso Armen Ra and renowned vocalist Mister X.
In addition to tickets to individual screenings, AIFF is offering All-Access Passes for festivalgoers, allowing them entry to all screenings throughout the 3-day film festival, as well as to the receptions on Friday and Saturday. For more information and tickets to the 20th Anniversary Film Festival and Awards Gala, please visit www.arpafilmfestival.com or email [email protected]
Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA) is a non-profit 501 (3) (c) organization. To date, AFFMA has awarded over 150 individuals with grants in support of their creative endeavors. Through its Arpa International Film Festival, AFFMA has recognized industry legends, with Lifetime Achievement, Career Achievement, Humanitarian and Breakthrough Artist Awards. Arpa International Film Festival takes great pride in working toward recognizing the diverse tapestry of international talent and presenting it to an appreciative audience. We place a strong emphasis on filmmakers’ unique artistic vision, cultural diversity and social understanding.