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Amerikatsi

Directed by Michael Goorjian
Narrative Feature
Armenia | 119 min | 2022

As a young boy, CHARLIE escaped the Armenian genocide by stowing away in a trunk bound for the United States. His family was not so lucky. Despite his tragic start, as an adult, Charlie has managed to maintain his child-like wonder for the world. However, like so many refugees and orphans, there’s a hole in Charlie’s big heart.
Our story begins in 1947, as Charlie repatriates back to Armenia only to be greeted by the harsh reality of Soviet Communism. The soul of Armenia has been suffocated beneath the iron curtain. Almost immediately Charlie is arrested and sentenced to prison for the absurd crime of wearing a tie. To further ensure that he doesn’t influence other prisoners with his “cosmopolitan” ways, Charlie is placed in solitary confinement.
Just as he appears to be succumbing to the terror of his situation, Charlie discovers that the prison wall outside his cell window had been damaged during a recent earthquake. And through a hole he can see into a nearby apartment building…
The Armenian couple who live in the apartment, TIGRAN and RUZAN, become Charlie’s only connection to the outside world. Every chance he gets he watches them, living vicariously through the details of their private lives, sharing meals with them, laughing, crying, singing and dancing with them. All the while discovering the Armenian culture he never knew.
Charlie begins to care deeply for Tigran, sympathizing with this Soviet Armenian who has been forced to suppress his passion for music, food, art and life. But then, in an unexpected twist of fate, Tigran discovers that Charlie has been watching him, to Charlie’s surprise, Tigran does not report him, but instead allows Charlie further into his world.
Through these two prisoners of circumstance, our belief in love and magic is revived. In the end, although not in the way he expected, Charlie ultimately finds what he came to Armenia in search of … a homeland.

“RELATIVE Q&A with Wendy Robie (TWIN PEAKS), Clare Cooney, Emily Lape, Melissa DuPrey and More!”

Cinema Femme Magazine

https://cinemafemme.com/2022/02/26/relative-qa-with-wendy-robie-twin-peaks-clare-cooney-emily-lape-melissa-duprey-and-more-february-27-130-pm-cst%ef%bf%bc/

“Grand Jury Award for Chicago Indie RELATIVE and WALKING DEAD star Roberts”

SCREEN Magazine

“At the Siskel Center, Rogers Park is Tuesday’s Star”

Chicago Reader

“A Family is at a Crossroads in Exclusive Trailer for Michael Glover Smith’s RELATIVE”

The Film Stage

Films about Armenia have mostly focused on the Genocide, which is crucial. But as a people, there is so much more to who we are! Our music, our food, our passion, our “over-the-top” generosity, our love for life. Amerikatsi celebrates and shares this side of Armenia with the world, a side which since my boyhood, I have longed to know and reconnect with.
In many ways, the main character Charlie’s dream of returning to his homeland reflects the dream of not only the Armenian Diaspora, but hundreds of millions of people throughout the world who long to connect to their native land. For many, especially in America, we feel that far- away-land pulsing in our blood, calling for us to return. But, like Charlie, the reality of our ancestral homeland doesn’t always turn out to be what we imagined it would be. The connection we long for is always just out of reach, as if residing on the other side of a prison wall.
On a final personal note, after recently completing our production in Armenia, I have to say, just being there, I felt the “prison wall” inside of me crumble. I felt inspired and hopeful. Which is my wish for everyone who sees Amerikatsi—to walk away with a sense of hope and connection, something very much needed in the world today.

Amerikatsi - Poster

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival