The National Cinema Center of Armenia, established by the RA Government Order N1110-N in 2006, is a state non-commercial organization which operates in the structure of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and is a legal successor to Armenfilm studio, first founded in 1923 and named after Hamo Bek-Nazaryan.
The decree of the Government of Armenia "On the Organization of the State Cinema" from April 16, 1923, was aimed at establishing film production in Soviet Armenia. The initiative was taken up by Daniel Dznuni (1895-1967), who was allocated only 60 rubles from the state budget to carry through this huge amount of work.
PETKINO, the newly formed film organization, took brisk actions and just two years later, in 1925 a full-length documentary Soviet Armenia was presented to the audience at the opening ceremony of The Nairi cinema hall. In the same year, the studio undertook to produce the first Armenian feature film, for which an Armenian actor and director Hamo Bek-Nazaryan (1892-1965) was invited from Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1926 Hamo Bek-Nazaryan made Namus (Honor), which enjoyed an unprecedented success in the Soviet Union and laid solid grounds for the further development of the studio.
In 1928 the studio was renamed into Armenkino and during the next decade produced thirty-two silent feature and documentary films under Bek-Nazaryan's artistic direction. Many of these films well anchored in the history of the world cinema. In 1935 the introduction of a sound movie in Armenia was marked by the first Armenian sound film PEPO, an internationally famous masterpiece by Hamo Bek-Nazaryan. To mention, later in 1938 Armenkino was renamed into Yerevan Studio.
From 1936-50 the studio produced several ambitious historical dramas - ZANGEZUR, DAVID BEK, ANAHIT. However, in the conditions of Stalin's dictatorship, the production of the studio experienced a sharp decline. In 1950 after Bek-Nazaryan's last Armenian film The Second Caravan had been banned the film studio stopped production for about four years.
The new stage of activity started during the Khrushchev Thaw, when in 1954 film production restarted and young oncoming directors such as Grigory Melik-Avagyan, Stepan Kevorkov, Yuri Yerznkyan, Levon Isahakyan and others entered the arena.
In 1957 the studio gained its prominent title Armenfilm and was named after Hamo Bek-Nazaryan.
With an aim to diversify its creative crew, the studio regularly invited Armenian graduates of the All Union Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) to work in Armenia, which resulted in a positive qualitative leap forward in 1960-70. Many of the most remarkable works of the Soviet-Armenian cinema were made during those years. The films left their undeniable impact both on modern Armenian culture and on the world cinema in the second half of the 20th century, namely: Hello, It’s Me (1965) by Frunze Dovlatyan, The Triangle (1965) and We and Our Mountains (1969) by Henrik Malyan, The Color of Pomegranates (1969) by Sergei Parajanov, Karine (1967) and Heghnar Spring (1970) by Arman Manaryan.
The studio also achieved noteworthy success in animation, establishing a unique school of local animation thanks to such masters as Valentin Podpomogov, Robert and Lyudmila Sahakyants, Gayane Martirosyan and others.
During its 80-year operation period more than 420 feature, documentary and animated films of different genres were produced in Armenfilm studio.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of market relations in the Armenian economy financial inflow into film production was minimal, due to which the volume of film production sharply decreased. Very few films were made in Armenfilm in the 1990s, however, the situation started to change in the early 2000s. In 2006 the studio was privatized.
At the same time, the National Cinema Center of Armenia was established- an organization targeted at implementation state cultural policy in the field of cinematography and a legal successor to Armenfilm studio. Today, the National Cinema Center of Armenia performs a number of functions i.e. provides financial support to local filmmakers, promotes national film heritage, presents Armenian films in international film festivals and film markets.
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