THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
Foundation of Armenfilm (April 16, 1923)
The first Armenian movie, called “Armenian Cinema” (Հայկական սինեմա), was filmed in 1912 in Cairo (Egypt). In the same year, it was shown in several Armenian communities of the United States. But the first and biggest Armenian studio was created eleven years later, in 1923, in Yerevan.
The Council of Popular Commissars (Council of Ministers) of Soviet Armenia adopted a decision on April 16, 1923, to nationalize all private cinemas and to found the company “Petkino” (State Cinema), which was shortly thereafter renamed “Haypetfotokino” (Armenian State Photo Cinema). The board of the company was directed by Daniel Dznuni. The company was renamed “Haykino” in 1928 and then Yerevan Film Studio (1937).
The first film was a documentary, “Soviet Armenia” in 1924 (directed by I. Kraslavski). It was followed by the first feature film, H. Bek-Nazarian’s Namus (The Honor), a year later. A series of silent films by Bek-Nazarian, the pioneering director of Armenian cinema, and others brought recognition to Armenian productions within the Soviet Union. The beginning of the “talkies” was marked by the production of the masterpiece of Armenian cinema, Pepo (1935), also directed by Bek-Nazarian. It followed a long period of historical films, before and during World War II, including Zangezur (1938), by Bek-Nazarian, which won the USSR State Prize. However, Lev Atamanov filmed the first Armenian cartoon, The Dog and the Cat (1938), during this period.
After a period dominated by the production of documentaries, feature films resumed in 1954, and the period of maturity was reached in the 1960-1980s, when some of those films even made their way to the international market. The company was renamed Armenfilm in 1957 (it was known in Armenian as Hayfilm) and the studios were baptized with the name of Hamo Bek-Nazarian in 1966. Some of the more remarkable films of this period were: “Hello, It’s Me” (Frunze Dovlatyan, 1965), “Triangle” (Henrik Malian, 1967), “We Are Our Mountains” (Henrik Malian, 1969), “The Color of Pomegranate” (Sergei Parajanov, 1969), “Nahapet” (Henrik Malian, 1977), “A Piece of Sky” (Henrik Malian, 1980), “White Dreams” (Sergei Israelian, 1984), “The Tango of Our Childhood” (Albert Mkrtchyan, 1985), “Nostalgia” (Frunze Dovlatyan, 1990), and others.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenfilm entered a period of decline and was privatized in 2005 to Armenia Studios LLC (a branch of CS Media Holding).