05 February 2024

The year 2023 marked the 100th anniversary of Armenian Cinema. It was entirely devoted to the study and promotion of Armenian cinema, both within Armenia and internationally. Throughout the year, numerous significant events took place, ranging from screenings to conferences, from discussions to initiatives aimed at restoring Armenian films. Some of these events have been included in the local and international programs for 2024.

Within this series, screenings dedicated to the film legacy of Hamo Beknazaryan, particularly his silent films, will take place at the Brussels Cinematheque in February. The agreement for this event was reached in 2023 as a result of negotiations conducted by representatives of the National Cinema Center of Armenia. The management of the Cinematheque selected and outsourced the main screening material from Beknazaryan's films preserved in its own archives, except the three restored films proposed and provided by the National Cinema Center of Armenia - "The House on the Volcano", "Land of Nairi", and "Daughter". These films were restored in 4K format as part of the state program for digitization and restoration of films, funded by the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports. Additionally, the organizers included one more film in the screening list: "In the Pillory" (also known as "The Patricide"), which Hamo Beknazaryan shot in Georgia in 1923. The screenings of Hamo Beknazaryan's films commenced on February 1st with this particular film.

We present the screening schedule for Hamo Beknazaryan's films at the Brussels Cinematheque, along with brief descriptions:

February 3, 2024 / February 10, 2024
"Shor and Shorshor" (1926; directed by Hamo Beknazaryan) was the first Armenian comedy to be released on the screen in 1926. Inspired by a friendly conversation, Beknazaryan expressed his desire to attempt filming a comedy. He wrote the script for the film in one night, based on the the same name story by Mushegh Bagratuni. Three days later, Beknazaryan submitted the script to the Art Council, which was considered and approved on the same day. The film narrates the humorous escapades of Shor and Shorshor - two lazy and alcoholic best friends. Film critics rated "Shor and Shorshor" as one of the most successful comedies of its time.

06․02․2024 /13․02․2024
The silent film "Khaspush" (1927, directed by Hamo Beknazaryan) depicts the rebellion of Khaspushes- peasants and artisans. It aims to showcase the plight of Persian artisans and peasants, while also shedding light on the political machinations of Tsarist Russia and Great Britain in this country. Released in 1927, "Khaspush" was a significantly influential work compared to its predecessors. The film allocates ample space to mass scenes meant to depict people's uprisings, night demonstrations, and the Tehran market etc. "Khaspush" stands as a major achievement not only in Armenian cinema but also in Soviet cinematography. It marks the first film to authentically depict the East.

“Namus" (1925, directed by Hamo Beknazaryan), the first Armenian feature film was released in 1925. Its success was unprecedented. The tragic love story of two lovers who fell victim to adat i.e custom and local traditions, deeply touched the audience. The film presented another model of human existence on the screen-
a completely new, unfamiliar, and exceptionally convincing reality.
The film “Land of Nairi” (1930) is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Soviet Armenia. Before Dziga Vertov's influence, documentary cinema in the Soviet Union, including Armenian documentary cinema, primarily focused on straightforward documentation. Hamo Beknazaryan pioneered in making the first “documentary” films. Together with the director of photography A. Yakovley H. Beknazaryan captured the aftermath of the Gyumri earthquake in 1926 and in 1930 they shot the feature-length documentary Land of Nairi.

The historical revolutionary film “The House on the Volcano” (1928), is based on a true story. The film depicts the construction of a house for workers in oil fields, but on land with underground gases. However, the story takes a tragic turn when a large fire breaks out from the gas escaping from under the earth. The house is consumed by flames, resulting in a significant number of victims among the workers, women, and children. Produced by Armenkino, this film stands as a unique phenomenon within the Soviet cinematography of its era. It underscores the importance of the relentless struggle against human exploitation and addresses vital issues concerning the protection of human rights and interests.
H. Bek-Nazaryan and P. Folyan wrote the script of the film and H. Beknazaryan was tasked to direct the film. The House on the Volcano marked the debut of the talented film actress Tatyana Makhmuryan (Maro) who later appeared in numerous Armenian films. Hrachya Nersisyan (Petros), Tigran Ayvazyan (Ghukasyan), Mikayel Garagash (the manager) and others also starred in the film.

The 24-minute short film "Daughter" (1942, directed by Hamo Beknazaryan) was shot during the Great Patriotic War. The film story unfolded in a Russian village occupied by German fascists. Hrachya Nersisyan, Sofya Volkhovskaya, Avet Avetisyan, and others starred in the film. "Daughter" was screened across the Soviet Union during the war, aiming to bolster the struggle of the patriots in the rear to fight for victory.


Hamo Beknazaryan brought Armenian cinema to such cinematographic heights with his later works that it has preserved its uniqueness and modernity even today.




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