BIFF YEAR ’ROUND 2023-24
Wednesday, Apr 19, 6:30 PM, 2023
Downtown Beloit Association Office
557 E. Grand Ave. Downtown Beloit
Zoom Q&A Following!
Sun Feb 26, 2023 – 12:00 pm | La Casa Grande
Fri Mar 3, 2023 – 7:30 pm | Bagels & More
NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD AT THE VENUES
Purchase your ticket either online or at the Box Office
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.
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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.
Michael Goorjian is an Emmy Award winning actor, writer, and filmmaker born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Michael won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in the television movie David’s Mother alongside Kirstie Alley. He is also well known for playing Neve Campbell’s love interest, Justin, on the Golden Globe winning series Party of Five, as well as Heroin Bob in the cult classic SLC Punk. Most recently he starred alongside Robert De Niro in HBO’s The Wizard of Lies. Other film & television credits include: Newsies, Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr., Forever Young with Mel Gibson, Leaving Las Vegas, Hard Rain with Morgan Freeman, Broken with Heather Graham, The Invisibles, Lucifer, Covert Affairs, Lie to Me, House, Alias, Monk, CSI, Without a Trace to name a few.
As a stage actor/choreographer, Michael has won numerous awards, including; an L.A. Weekly Theater Award for Best Lead Actor in Modigliani, and a LA Critics Choice Award for choreographing the world premiere of Reefer Madness the Musical. Most recently Michael appeared at Berkeley Repertory Theater in their 2017 World premiere of Imaginary Comforts by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket).
As director, Michael achieved international acclaim for his award-winning feature film debut, Illusion, in which he starred along side Hollywood- legend Kirk Douglas (as well as some other guy named Bryan Cranston). Soon after, Michael began collaborating with the publishing company Hay House to helm a number of productions, including; The Shift starring Wayne Dyer. Michael’s debut novel, What Lies Beyond the Star was released world-wide in 2016.