We had the opportunity to sit down and speak to Jivan Avetisyan about his upcoming film titled, Revival. From the director of Tevanik, The Last Inhabitant, and Gate to Heaven, Jivan Avetisyan’s newest film Revival is slated for production in early 2022. Revival will be Avetisyan’s fourth full-length feature film, all of which address the universal themes that revolve around the Armenian pursuit of peace. The launch of Rervival’s crowdfunding campaign is set to begin on March 30th.
Q: How did this story come about?
A: During my travels I have often seen Armenians living in different parts of the world. I intended to return to them one day. And it is not accidental that the main character of the film is an Armenian living in Europe.
We started developing the idea and story of the film “Revival” with Narine Voskanyan in the fall of 2018. We have studied for a long time, tried to understand the upcoming topics of concern to the world. Finally, we come to the part where we talk about the middle ground: artificial intelligence and identity. We have created the story of the film “Revival” around both of them, based on the Artsakh theme, which reveals the deeper foundations of the story. Trying to rediscover himself, his identity, our hero reveals the events of the first Artsakh war, in parallel with which he finds himself in the focus of the war.
Q: How did the 44-Day War affect the creation of the film?
A: Unfortunately, it had a great impact. From the beginning, we connected the story of the film with the April 2016 Four-Day War. However, 2020 raised a stronger wave and completely took over that line of the film’s history. During the war, I joined the team of Stepanakert Public Television, I worked with them, being in different parts of Artsak to take many photos and record many segments. There is a lot of material collected, some of it will be presented in the film through the main character.
Q: You said that you were in Artsakh during the war, what was your experience like?
A: I saw the previous war when I was younger. Despite my age, I was impressed by many things from the previous one. And I can say that these two wars were very different. This one was awful, scary and faster. I was an adult in this war and I found something very important for me․ I came to understand my father, who during the previous war did everything he could to keep us alive so that we could live after the war. Now, my son is the same age as me then. It was as if I had entered into a dialogue with my father and son during this war. I began to value much more my father’s sufferings, his struggle for our survival.
Q: Is the film more about the war, or the quest of a diasporan Armenian finding his roots, or is it about both?
A: Both complement each other. The horrors and atrocities of wars eat man and turn him into a beast. Sometimes man goes out against the beast in his midst, tries to fight, preserving his existence and being. And that path of preservation leads to the rediscovery of identity. After all, man-made disasters begin with a lack of identity.
This is more about the aftermath of the war and the search for identity that follows. Let’s not go far, many Armenians in the Diaspora, like the main character of the film, do not know their roots, do not know that they were created from dough. Years later, the hero of the film tries to find himself, returns to a past that seems closed to him for years, but with difficulty, but still opens its doors, returns him to his lost identity, his childhood, when he had another name, had a different family, but appeared in a different reality, in France. The hero of the film sends a signal to the Armenians all over the world, in general, to the whole humanity to stop for a moment, to rediscover themselves. We have lost ourselves, we must rediscover ourselves so that we can understand how to live in the present, so that the future does not take us back to the past. Man, created in the image and likeness of God, must not cease to be human.
Q: What role does the diaspora play in this film for you?
A: The role of the Armenian communities of the Diaspora is very big․ We have made all our films with the strong support of the Armenian Diaspora.
In order to bring the film “Revival” to life, we plan to carry out crowdfunding, this time “we rely on” the direct participation of the Armenian communities of the Diaspora. We have lived through extremely difficult days, but we must not retreat, we must continue to keep our culture strong in order to present our stories on leading international platforms. By supporting each other we must be able to overcome our difficulties, only with joint strength can we succeed and recover what we’ve lost. The support of our compatriots all over the world was also during the creation of our previous films․ We cooperate and we continue our cooperation with the powerful team of the American Artsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation, headed by founders Adrineh Mirzayan, Garo Madenlian, etc. By being in constant contact with them, we develop and implement our programs.
The money for the development stage of the film was formed and served its purpose. We plan to carry out crowdfunding to replenish the production stage. After forming the Armenian share of the budget of this stage, we will be able to apply to state support, various international funds. This is a clear working way that we used during the creation of our previous film “Gate of Heaven.” We have been working on this film since October 2018, and I think we will have a wonderful film on Artsakh-themed international cooperation in the next two years.
Q: All your films are about Artsakh. What makes this film different?
A: Who would have thought that the next war would start in 2020, but, contrary to that, we knew that it was not over yet, that’s why our main goal was to tell the world about Artsakh. During these years of making films, we invited people from different parts of the world to Artsakh to get to know and get to know it. We applied, participated in world-leading festivals, had international collaborations, thus trying to spread our stories as much as possible. But, no matter how huge it was, it was not enough to be influential enough, because I think the lack of information about Artsakh in the world brought us all this. And for that, now we must continue to tell twice, three times, four times more, to create more films on Artsakh.
Many people, unfortunately, are depressed today, yes, they have reason to be depressed. But we must find strength, end despair and weakness. When I returned home at the end of the war, I did not leave the house for about a week, I was ashamed of such an outcome. But my friend Raffi, Raffi Kehnelyan, who is a Canadian-Armenian living here, was with me and many others during this time, keeping in touch with us and the world, took me out of that room of shame, and I finally started working. We try to do the maximum in our work, sometimes the impossible. Whoever has a big dream and does not stop working, fighting, can join us, we are open for cooperation. We must not lose anymore!