Sun Mar 5, 2023 – 2:30 pm | Downtown Beloit Association
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Mariam lives in a remote Armenian village where there are no men. On her birthday, her hopes of having a reunited family are shattered, but she must put aside her own crushed dreams and build up her friend Anush’s hopes of an idyllic life as she embarks into motherhood.
There are many “menless” villages in Armenia. In these villages all capable working men leave for Russia in pursuit of work, leaving behind their wives, children and elders. Women are the de facto heads of households, caring for their families and providing for their homes. These women are strong, resilient and resourceful, but they are also missing the person they wanted to spend their lives with, yearning for a united family. These conflicts and dynamics fascinated me, so I decided to spend some time in these villages. The women I met took me in, let me live with them and see their day-to-day lives.
What interested me the most was that in a patriarchal rural society these women had created a community of female run households, yet they didn’t quite realize how incredible this was. To me each one of them were heroes as they seamlessly navigated between taking care of their farms, their children, elders and the household without the support or love of their partners.
Visually, it was important for me to ground the film in realism and have the audience experience the same dynamics I felt being there. I wanted the characters to interrupt each other, to talk over, as they would in real life. The film is designed with lots of activity, sounds and animation when Mariam is with her friends, contrasted with the tone of her loneliness when she is by herself. I wanted the camera to stay largely inconspicuous until the end – when after a long, exhausting night of labor, the women are gathered around Anush and her newborn, as if in a renaissance painting. The film is a portrait of these women and in that moment I wanted to paint them.
“It Takes a Village…” is about female friendships, the unity of the community, about the dreams and hopes, fears and sorrows Armenian women have. “It Takes a Village…” is my love letter to the women I met in Armenian villages.
Ophelia Harutyunyan is a US based Armenian filmmaker. She co-directed and produced the documentary Totally Under Control (NEON) about the US government’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She produced Crazy, Not Insane (HBO) which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. She wrote and produced the fiction short film Red Apples which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. Her films have played at other notable film festivals like Sundance, SXSW, TIFF, Clermont Ferrand, etc. Most recently, she wrote and directed the short fiction film It Takes a Village…, an Armenian-French-Belgian co-production. She’s a graduate of the Columbia University’s Film MFA program and an alumna of the Berlinale Talents program.
Director: Ophelia Harutyunyan
Country: Armenia, Belgium, France
Runtime: 23 min.
Writer: Ophelia Harutyunyan
Producer: Nare Leone Ter-Gabrielyan, Lydia Indjova, Quentin Daniel
Music: Simon Fransquet
Cinematography: Gionatan Tecle
Key Cast: Nanor Petrosyan, Liana Vardanyan, Ani Khachikyan, Astghik Abajyan, Siranush Barseghyan, Zhenik Meliksetyan