«On the banks of the Araks»
The documentary «On the Bank of the Araks» is one of the projects of the Armenian Marketing Association in cooperation with the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council. This long-term project was sponsored by the US Embassy in Armenia. The work on the film lasted almost a year and a half — from February 2008 to August 2009. The creators define the genre of the work as an experimental documentary with elements of fiction. The director of the film is Gevorg Nazaryan.
The Araks River is the largest river in the Armenian Highlands. It begins outside the former Soviet Armenia in the Byurakan mountains. The borders of Armenia with Turkey pass along a considerable length of the river. The Araks has its own history, as do the inhabitants on both sides of it. Therefore, the purpose of the film was to highlight the life of people living in border areas, their common problems and joys. The filmmakers set out to trace the development of communication between peoples, to try to understand what the Araks River means to them.
The premiere of Gevorg Nazaryan’s film «On the Bank of the Araks» took place on November 10, 2009 in Yerevan. In Turkey, the official premiere took place on December 10-12. The film, according to director Gevorg Nazaryan, tells about the life of people living on different banks of the Araks River: «I got great pleasure from the traces of Armenian culture, khachkars, churches I saw on the banks of the Araks. And I am glad that I can share what I saw with you. » The plot of the film is as follows: Turkish engineers are going to build a reservoir on the banks of the Araks, and they turn to the Armenian side with inquiries. Warm relations are established between the Turkish engineer Aras and the Armenian engineer Tamar, thanks to which each of them tries to get to know better the country located on the opposite bank of the Araks.
The film’s shooting consisted of several stages, and the episodes were filmed both in Turkey and Armenia. During the first two trips, the Armenian film crew visited the villages of Kharkov and Yervandashat. In total, about ten such trips were planned during August-September 2008. Filming locations include the legendary Khor Virap and the Margara Bridge, which directly connects Armenia with Turkey. Later, similar filming began in Turkey. The footage told the audience about the life of the border territories located along the river on the Turkish side. Later, the footage of the Armenian and Turkish colleagues was combined into a film, translated into three languages: Armenian, Turkish, and English. The documentary was one of the first attempts to start cultural interaction between the Armenian and Turkish sides.
The main objective of the film
The main objective of the film, according to the President of the Armenian Marketing Association Aram Navasardian, was to show today’s Armenia to today’s Turkey, and vice versa. The film raises a number of issues related to both ecology and the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. Ordinary residents of cities and border villages of both states share their opinions with the audience.
Serdar Dinler, co-chairman of the Armenian-Turkish Relations Development Council, attended the screening of the film. He shared his positive opinion with people gathered in the hall, and at the same time, his concern about the upcoming organization of the premiere of the film in Turkey. After watching the film, opposite opinions were heard in the hall. Some of those present expressed their gratitude to the filmmakers for their good work and the creation of conditions to establish favorable relations between the two countries, while others criticized the film.