Ararat is a contemporary story of two estranged families and their search for reconciliation and truth. It is also a historical reenactment (a film within a film) being made by a famous Armenian director, Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour), whose production is based on Clarence Ussher’s actual book AN AMERICAN PHYSICIAN IN TURKEY which depicts the Siege of Van, and the tragic events of 1915. Seamlessly shifting through time, Atom Egoyan explores the quest for personal, sexual and cultural identity through the intimate moments shared by lovers, families, enemies and strangers.
Ararat intertwines the paths of two families. At the center is an 18 year old boy on the cusp of adulthood, Raffi (David Alpay) and a man on the eve of his retirement, David (Christopher Plummer). Raffi returns to Canada with cans of 35mm film, digital tapes and a mystery. He is sent to customs for inspection. David, the retiring Customs official is determined to discover what Raffi is concealing. According to Raffi, the canisters contain “additional” material for a film being shot in Toronto. David suspects otherwise and his questioning leads to an intense psychological examination.
Raffi struggles with the memory of his father and his very present mother, Ani (Arsinee Khanjian), an art historian specializing in the work of the great abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky (Simon Abkarian). Raffi is also torn between his mother and his relationship with his step-sister, Celia (Marie Josee Croze), who blames Ani for her own father’s death.
David is coming to terms with his gay son Philip (Brent Carver) and Philip’s lover, Ali (Elias Koteas) while trying to build a solid relationship with his grandson, Tony. When Ali, an actor, is cast in the Saroyan film, the paths of these two families become inextricably linked, culminating in David’s intense interrogation of Raffi’s mysterious cargo. What begins as a search for clues becomes a quest for truth across a vast and ancient terrain of lies, deception, denial, fact and fears.
Ararat explores how history, both personal and political, can inspire a legacy of uncertainty and insecurity. It is a true story about the nature of living proof.
A Robert Lantos production, Ararat is an Alliance Atlantis and Serendipity Point Films presentation of an Atom Egoyan film in association with Ego Film Arts and ARP. Ararat is written and directed by Atom Egoyan (Felicia’sJourney, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica), and produced by Robert Lantos (Sunshine, The Sweet Hereafter, BlackRobe) and Atom Egoyan.
The film features a star-studded ensemble cast including:
Charles Aznavour, “Edward” (Shoot the Piano Player, The Tin Drum, Tomorrow Is My Turn)
Eric Bogosian, “Rouben” (Gossip, Deconstructing Harry, Talk Radio)
Brent Carver, “Philip” (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Broadway’s Kiss of the Spider Woman)
Marie-Josée Croze, “Celia” (Maelström)
Bruce Greenwood, “Martin/Clarence Ussher” (Thirteen Days, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica)
Elias Koteas, “Ali/Jedvet Bey” (The Thin Red Line, Crash, Exotica)
Simon Abkarian, “Arshile Gorky” (Lila Lili, J’irai au paradis car l’enfer est ici)
Christopher Plummer, “David” (Night and Day, A Beautiful Mind, The Insider)
and newcomer David Alpay, “Raffi”, who makes his acting debut.
The production team includes:
Co-Producer Sandra Cunningham (Saint Jude, Possible Worlds)
Associate Producers Simone Urdl (Soul Cages) and
Julia Rosenberg (Sunshine, Men With Brooms)
Director of Photography Paul Sarossy (Felicia’s Journey, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica)
Production Designer Phillip Barker (The Sweet Hereafter)
Costume Designer Beth Pasternak (The Sweet Hereafter)
Editor Susan Shipton (The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica).
Produced by Serendipity Point Films, Ararat will be distributed in the United States by Miramax Films, in Canada by Alliance Atlantis, in France by ARP and worldwide sales handled by Alliance Atlantis.
“As a Canadian-Armenian filmmaker,” says Atom Egoyan, “ I had always contemplated a film about the unique history of the Armenian people. While it was tempting to consider an adaptation of one of several books, I realized it was crucial for me to root the film in the present day. In this way, I could trace the effects of this historic event on the present generation. My goal was to make a film that would allow the viewer to experience the reality of horror in a spiritual sense, and not just present the obvious results of material and physical loss.”
“Ararat is a meditation on the spiritual role of art in the process of struggling for meaning and redemption in the aftermath of genocide,” he continues. “It is a deeply personal piece of work. While there are certain motifs that I have explored in my other films, this is the first time I have directly addressed the notion of historical consciousness on such a scale. What is destroyed in genocide are not only human lives, but the very imprint of humanity in us. The challenge was to harness the epic consequences of genocide with the intimate moments shared by contemporary characters. If history is in the telling, then life is in the making.”
“The film-within-the-film revisits the historic events in an attempt to recreate the past,” he explains, “ while the contemporary story and its present day characters reconstruct their own histories, according to their own needs, memories and imaginations. As the historical epic recreates a conventional history out of the ruins of memory and the anecdotes and accounts of the survivors (in particular, Clarence Ussher’s AN AMERICAN PHYSICIAN IN TURKEY, published in 1917), it provides an environment for all of my characters to come together, desperate to find the truth and hopeful of making sense of their lives through an understanding of the story the film tells.”
This is a sentiment that resonates strongly with producer Robert Lantos. “The 20th century harbours many untold stories,” says Lantos. “Among them are tragic events that affected millions of people and shaped the world we live in today. As filmmakers, we use our art form to tell these stories. Making a movie demands tremendous energy, commitment and risk. This is only worthwhile if the effort is on behalf of a film that has universal appeal and tells a story that must be told. While each film I produce does not have to be about an unresolved chapter in history, in the case of Ararat, however, this is very much the case.”
Historical Context "Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten." - Former US President Ronald Reagan
"...Calls, therefore, on the Turkish Government and the Turkish Grand National Assembly to give fresh support to the Armenian minority, as an important part of Turkish society, in particular by public recognition of the genocide which that minority suffered before the establishment of the modern state of Turkey;..." - European Parliament Resolution
Between 1894 and 1896, the Turkish government of the Ottoman Empire began committing atrocities against the Armenians, whom they considered “subversive”. In these years alone, it is estimated that 200,000 Armenians were massacred. On August 2, 1914, a day after Germany declared war on Russia beginning WWI, a secret treaty of alliance was signed between Turkey and Germany virtually placing the Turkish armed forces under German command. This was the beginning of further atrocities towards the Armenian people. On August 18, 1914 1080 Armenian shops were looted and destroyed. Between 1896 and the beginning of World War I in 1914, tens of thousands of Armenians fled to South America, France, Lebanon and Egypt.
Eventually, many of them made their way to the United States, with a majority settling in California and New York. Those that remained put their trust in the Armenian provincial governments who were organizing to establish rights for themselves. In 1915, behind the screen of war, the Young Turk government, called the Committee of Union and Progress, implemented a plan to exterminate the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey – the largest Christian minority in the country. The genocide was carried out through a sophisticated bureaucratic organization and involved military and technological planning, resulting in the death of well over a million, about two-thirds of the Armenian population. The atrocities were veiled under the guise of deportations, as the Young Turk government ordered the Armenians to leave their ancestral homelands. Massive forced marches to the deserts of what is present-day Syria led to the majority of the deaths, either by starvation, dehydration and disease or by rape, brutality and massacre.
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide describes genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Clearly this definition applies in the case of the atrocities committed against the Armenians. Because the U.N. Convention was adopted in 1948, thirty years after the Armenian Genocide, Armenians worldwide have sought from their respective governments formal acknowledgment of the crimes committed during W.W.I. Countries like France, Argentina, Greece, and Russia, where the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants live, have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. However, as a matter of policy, the present-day Republic of Turkey adamantly denies that a genocide was committed against the Armenians during W.W.I.
"When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal this fact...I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the suffering of the Armenian race in 1915." - Henry Morgenthau Sr. The US Ambassador To The Ottoman Empire, Writing In 1919
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Producers Robert Lantos and Atom Egoyan have assembled what is surely one of the most eclectic ensemble casts in recent memory: legendary veterans Charles Aznavour and Christopher Plummer; three of Egoyan’s “repertory actors” Bruce Greenwood, Arsinée Khanjian and Elias Koteas; established stage and screen performers Brent Carver and Eric Bogosian; and newcomers Marie-Josée Croze and David Alpay.
For Bruce Greenwood, who appeared in Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica and who plays a role within a role, a modern-day actor named Martin and the historical hero Clarence Ussher, “‘Ararat’ is a film about a great many things, filled with characters from many different backgrounds. What I love about Atom’s work is that inevitably, you meet characters you would think have no common trajectory but who eventually not only intersect but deeply affect one another in a myriad of ways. Then all the straight lines of time begin to waver and the wavy lines begin to boil. That’s the genius of Atom’s style and one of the reasons I’ll work with him anytime on anything. Hell, I’d come in and deliver a pizza for him because I know it would be a totally new experience.”
For David Alpay, a 21-year-old pre-med student at the University of Toronto, the opportunity to work with Atom was, indeed, a totally new experience. “A friend of mine told me there was going to be an open call for extras. I got all excited and, even though I had an essay due, I went to the open call anyway. It turned out to be one of those ‘thanks for coming out and we’ll call you in a month or two’ kind of things. Well, a couple of days later I got a phone call and a few days after that I met with Atom and the rest fell together rather quickly. It was very exciting but very surreal.”
“It really didn’t hit me until much, much later,” says Alpay, “when I realized just how huge a deal this would be for me. Atom is the preeminent Canadian filmmaker, his films are seen all over the world and he had picked me to work with an absolutely amazing cast.”
Actor Brent Carver was immediately drawn to the script’s complex relationships and how his character Philip struggles with truth and denial. He sees that the relationships within the two families (Philip’s and Raffi’s) drive the film.
Carver explains: “Atom has written an entire movie about relationships between mothers and sons (Ani and Raffi), fathers and sons (David and Philip, Philip and Tony, Raffi and his dead father) and mothers and daughters (Ani and Celia) who are no longer ‘there’ in each other’s lives. Everyone is searching for one’s own personal identity in relationship to one’s parent or child, their respective belief systems and why they take actions for certain situations. It’s about the struggle to find out the true connections with each other.”
“It reminds me of when I see extraordinary clothes people are wearing,” says Carver, “and the material is made from an intricate weave that is, at the same time, incredibly classical and yet extremely simple. Atom has woven this story with that kind of simple yet classical texture. One story line goes this way and another goes that way but they all seem to connect into a real emotional fabric, a real tapestry of the human condition.”
For actor Christopher Plummer, Atom’s ability to create complex characters and situations is one reason he was so excited about working with Atom for the first time.
“He cloaks his scripts with wonderful ambiguities which turn out to be essentially significant,” says Plummer. “His stories are Chekhovian in the sense there is always a mystery behind the lines. Perhaps Chekhov was really an Armenian.”
For actor ArsinéeKhanjian, an Armenian-Canadian, who has appeared in many other Egoyan films including: Calendar, which she also co-produced; Exotica, during which she was pregnant with their son, Arshile; The Sweet Hereafter; and, most recently, Felicia’s Journey, this film evokes strong personal passion.
“The first day I walked on the historical set for Charles Aznavour’s ‘Ararat’, I cried” says Khanjian, whose grandparents survived the atrocities but were orphaned by the genocide. “I didn’t even feel the emotion overtaking me…suddenly my face was just wet. I was realizing this was the first time in my life I was being in touch with an environment and with a group of people in their costumes and in their habitat to which I had no prior exposure. Of course, I knew much about the genocide and my own history but to see a re-creation of that time and place was just overwhelming for me.”
Khanjian is quick to point out, however, that this re-creation of Armenia in 1915 is not the central key of the film.
“The film is more about the people involved in making the historical epic ‘Ararat,’” explains Khanjian, “than the historical epic itself. Atom has not made an educational film…It’s about a group of characters – two families – all who have a history of their own that is not quite told or at least not heard.”
“ It’s about them discovering and coming to terms with the truths and denials in their own lives” continues Khanjian, “just like the Armenians have been trying to do for almost one hundred years. What the characters ultimately learn is their issues can go nowhere if there is no communication, if there are no truths being told, if there are no denials being admitted. They all come to realize that they have to tell something and then trust the fact what they are saying will be heard. It is only at that level of engagement they can move on with their lives and with each other.”
Marie-Josée Croze was re-discovered by Atom after Arsinée Khanjian had been in the audience during a Toronto International Film Festival screening of Maelstrom last year and suggested that he see the film.
“Arsinéewas the first one who came to me to congratulate me on my work in that film,” recalls Croze. “We spoke briefly and about two weeks later I received a call from Atom. We met and we talked about my work and his script and it was all very simple and great at the same time. I can only say I felt like the luckiest actor in the world when he gave me the chance to be Celia.”
For Elias Koteas, whose previous collaborations with Egoyan include The Adjuster and Exotica, and who portrays the contemporary actor Ali and the historical Governor of Van Jevdet Bey, says working with Atom always makes him feel lucky.
“If Atom invites me to play in his sandbox, that’s all the motivation I need to go to work,” says Koteas. “He creates a truly unique working environment unseen in other parts of the industry. Over the years, he has fathered a family of actors, designers, technicians and crew who will drop everything else they are doing to come and work with him.”
For Eric Bogosian, portraying “Rouben”, was an opportunity for playfulness and reflection.
“Like Rouben, I am Armenian and I wanted to embrace that by being a part of this project,” says Bogosian. “We have an unusual experience as a people because each Armenian is familiar with the tragedy of our people; however, the rest of the general public usually is not aware of our history. So we need to create a kind of equilibrium of information. We need to fill the vacuum that is crying out to be filled but cannot because of certain political denials.”
When the legendary Charles Aznavour, who celebrated his 78th birthday during the first week of production, is asked about his reasons for taking the role of ‘Edward’, his response is, typically, passionate.
“For me it was a duty to say yes to Atom to play this part,” explains Aznavour. “For me this film is one more step toward what we [the Armenians] want and have asked for for more than 85 years. Why is it still being denied by so many? France has recognized the genocide and many other countries have done the same. We wait for America, we wait for other countries, we wait because the Turkish people want to be a part of the European union and they deserve to be with us. I agree they have to join but to join they have to accept the past and they have to say yes it happened.
“The Turkish people are a great people,” says Aznavour. “I hate to talk about the Turkish people, I would like to talk about the government, not the Turks because a Turk is a Turk. He is a person like me and you and anybody else. This is what I wait for and I am too old not to be passionate about it.”
MORE ABOUT THE PRODUCTION Shooting began in Toronto on Monday, May 21, 2001. In addition to some sound stage work, the production essentially shot the film on location for the first eight weeks of the schedule. The final week of filming took place in and around the Drumheller, Alberta area, where over 500 local extras were recruited to help re-create the disturbing desert death marches.
Many sites and sights of Toronto were used, including the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Pantages Theater; the George Ignatieff Theatre at Trinity College at University of Toronto (the same theater where Egoyan’s early plays were performed and where one of his early films became the first movie to be screened there) and Clarke Beach Park a.k.a. Cherry Beach, where production designer Phillip Barker and his art and set departments designed and constructed the largest set built for the film, the streets of Van (pronounced “vawn”).
“As most of the world now knows, Toronto is a great city to make films,” says Egoyan, “and for the Aznavour-directed ‘Ararat,’ I incorporated the notion that someone else from outside Canada has come to Toronto to make his film. That notion helps support the very contemporary, very Toronto feel.”
Needless to say, Egoyan and his creative production, design and technical teams relied on a great deal of research in order to capture the authentic look and feel of the scenes set between 1912 and 1915.
“While doing some of my research, I discovered the compelling story of the siege of the city of Van,” says Egoyan. “Van was a city with a large Armenian population which was able to defend itself using primitive old rifles against the most modern sort of European artillery. The city held off the Turkish forces for a number of weeks.”
Egoyan continues: “I also found an actual historical account written by an American missionary, Clarence Ussher, who was stationed in Van and was witness to the Turkish atrocities. So, the film that Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour) is coming to Toronto to make is based on that document which is called ‘An American Missionary in Turkey,’ published in Boston and New York in 1917.
“Bruce Greenwood’s character of Martin portrays Ussher,” explains Egoyan, “who was this heroic figure who was able to ensure that the American Mission in Van remained the safe zone in which the women and children could hide. There was a hospital inside the Mission and Ussher made sure that no guns came inside and that it remained absolutely neutral. It’s sort of an Alamo-type story. I was very faithful to that text. It was an amazing thing to discover.”
Egoyan continues: “I also discovered through my research that Arshile Gorky, the very important abstract impressionist painter whose work figures prominently in the film, was a young boy in Van during the siege. It was too irresistible not to incorporate information like that into the script.”
Arshile Gorky, born Vosdanig Manoog Adoin in Armenia, is considered to be one of the fathers of Abstract Expressionism. After his mother died in the genocide, Gorky and his sister emigrated to the United States. One of his most famous paintings, “The Artist and His Mother”, part of the Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, is featured prominently in Ararat.
“Phillip (Barker) and his departments created an absolutely beautiful and authentic streetscape for me,” says Egoyan, “and we filled the streets with passionate and enthusiastic members of the Armenian community in and around the Toronto area. On any given day, the set could be pristine and lively for the scenes that take place in 1912 or destroyed and deadly as the town is pillaged and burned by the Turkish soldiers in 1915.
“Everyone wanted to help,” says Egoyan, “and be involved because they all saw it as a very unique opportunity to step back in time and revisit a part of their history and culture that they have been told about since their childhoods.
“Everyday, an Armenian jeweler named Ara Run, who lost both sets of grandparents in the genocide, would close up his shop and bring all of his most expensive jewelry down to the set,” says Egoyan. “Then there is George Yeremian who has provided the rugs for every one of my films all the way back to ‘Next of Kin.’ Every one has their own unique story to tell and by participating as extras in the Van street scenes, maybe they felt they were getting to tell part of their story.
“What is sadly amazing about all this re-creation,” concludes Egoyan, “is what we re-created just stopped existing one day in 1915. Once there was a huge Armenian population in Turkey, lively streets, families walking to church and then one day, it just disappeared forever.”
Actor Bruce Greenwood, a man close to Egoyan and his work, was moved by so many of the film’s extras and how they represented Egoyan’s idea of Ararat as a film about living proof.
“I think the living proof, for example, are some of the extras in the film,” says Greenwood. “I remember one man who worked in one of my scenes who was 93 years old. So the living proof is ever aging and with that aging comes the inability to recognize as much and the easier it becomes to forget what happened. If we don’t acknowledge the living proof now, it will first become a memory, then it will become a distant memory, then an unreachable memory and, finally, it becomes a non-event.”
ABOUT THE CAST Christopher Plummer(David) began his professional career in both French and English in his hometown, Montreal. Since his New York stage debut in 1954, he went on to star in many celebrated productions on Broadway and London's West End.
He was also a leading actor at England's National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Canada's Stratford Festival. His last Broadway appearance was in the award-winning Barrymore; he has toured in Barrymore throughout North America. Plummer has written for the stage, television and the concert hall. In 1986, he was inducted into Theatre's Hall of Fame. A veteran of more than 80 motion pictures, his films include such diverse titles as the Oscar®-winning The Sound of Music, The Man Who Would Be King, Waterloo, The Pink Panther, Silent Partner, Battle of Britain, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Murder by Decree, Somewhere in Time, Star Trek VI, Dragnet, Wolf, Dolores Claiborne and 12 Monkeys. Plummer's most recent successes are his portrayals of TV journalist Mike Wallace in the critically acclaimed The Insider, and of F. Lee Bailey in the NBC telefilm American Tragedy. He will next be seen in Peter Cattaneo's Lucky Break.
Apart from numerous honors from the UK, USA, Austria and Canada, Plummer has won two Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards®, Britain's Evening Standard Award, Canada's Genie Award, and many nominations. He was named an Honorary Doctor of Arts by New York's Juilliard School and in 1968, sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, his country's highest honor. In November, 2001, he received the prestigious Governor General's Award for his lifetime achievement in the arts.
Singer-actor-composer-songwriter Charles Aznavour (Edward) was born Chahnour Varinag Aznavourian in 1924 in Paris, France, after his parents fled Turkey in the wake of the Turkish massacre. He is one of France’s legendary entertainers whose extraordinary career has spanned six decades. Aznavour is considered to have reinvented the French chanson, has composed more than 600 songs, has sold more than 100 million records and has appeared in over 60 films.
Aznavour made his theatrical debut as a dancer at the age of nine. He went on to become an international singing sensation and movie star, working with the likes of musical legends Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier and film directors such as Andre Cayatte (Tomorrow Is My Turn, for which Aznavour received the 1960 Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival); René Clair (Three Fables of Love); Julien Duvivier (Devil and The Ten Commandments); Claude Chabrol (The Hatter’s Ghost, The Twist); Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum); and Francois Truffaut, with whom he created perhaps his most memorable role as the lead in Shoot the Piano Player.
Some of his numerous career highlights include his 1964 sell-out performance at Carnegie Hall; his 1967 London debut at Royal Albert Hall, which was also sold-out; his UK No. 1 hit single, “She” (which was recently re-recorded by Elvis Costello for the soundtrack of the film, Notting Hill); and his honourary Cesar Award (France’s equivalent of the Academy Award®), which he received in 1997 for his invaluable contributions to French cinema.
More recent accomplishments include his compositions for the musical comedy “Lautrec”; his latest album Jazznavour; his appearance with Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel and other popular music stars in Sting’s annual rain-forest benefit concert at Carnegie Hall; and his being chosen “Entertainer of the Century” in an online poll sponsored by TIME Magazine, edging out the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
Elias Koteas (Ali / Jevdet Bey) is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and a member of the prestigious Actors’ Studio. Born in Montréal, his career is defined by the bold and challenging roles he undertakes in films directed by groundbreaking contemporary filmmakers.
His credits include Francis Ford Coppola’s Gardens of Stone and Tucker; Peter Masterson’s Full Moon in Blue Water; Roger Cardinal’s Malarek, for which he received his first Genie nomination for Best Actor; Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster and Exotica, for which he received his second Genie nomination, this time as Best Supporting Actor; David Cronenberg’s Crash; Gregory Hoblit’s Fallen, opposite Denzel Washington; Bryan Singer’s AptPupil; Steven Shainberg’s HitMe; and, perhaps most notable, his role in Terrence Malick’s Oscar®-nominated film, The Thin Red Line.
Koteas’ more recent feature film credits include Gattaca, Living Out Loud, Divorce: A Contemporary Western and Lost Souls. Upcoming films include Dancing At The Blue Iguana; Andrew Davis’ Collateral Damage; Novocaine, with Steve Martin; Harrison’s Flowers, with Andie MacDowell and Adrien Brody; Agnieska Holland’s A Shot in the Dark; and Simone, starring Al Pacino and directed by Andrew Niccol.
His television credits include a co-starring role in HBO’s Sugartime, opposite John Turturro and Mary-Louise Parker, and Horton Foote’s familial drama The Habitation of Dragons.
Among his numerous stage performances was a starring role in Kiss of the Spider Woman at Yale Repertory Theatre and last year’s well-received re-staging of Sam Shepard’s True West, directed by Matthew Warchus and co-starring Josh Brolin.
Arsinée Khanjian (Ani) most recently starred in Catherine Breillat’s critically acclaimed feature, A Ma Soeur! (Fat Girl). Her other international credits include Michael Haneke’s CODE INCONNU; two films for Olivier Assayas, Irma Vep and Late August, Early September; and Don McKellar’s debut feature, Last Night. Khanjian is best-known in North America for her ongoing collaboration with filmmaker Atom Egoyan. In his features she has played many important parts, including the pregnant club-owner in Exotica; an anguished hippie mother in the Oscar®-nominated The Sweet Hereafter, (for which she shared a special award for Ensemble Acting from the National Board of Review); and the glamorous TV cook (and mother) in Felicia’s Journey. She also co-produced, as well as starred with Egoyan in the award-winning Calendar.
Khanjian’s extensive stage-work includes Irina Brook’s 1999 French-language premiere of Dancing At Lughnasa, in Paris and Switzerland, (subsequently remounted in 2000, for a French national tour and festival appearances in Japan and Germany). She has starred in a number of important productions in Canada, including Beast On The Moon, and WeddingDay At The Cro-Magnons. In Spring, 2001, she was back in Paris and Switzerland, starring in a major new production of Goethe’s Stella, directed by Bruno Bayen. On television, she starred in the CBC drama series, Side Effects and has established a dynamic collaboration with Ken Finkleman, with the series More Tears, Foreign Objects, and Foolish Heart. The latter of which, she performed entirely in Armenian, and earned her both the Gemini Award, and the Best Actress Award from the Cinema Tout Ecran (Switzerland). Most recently, she hosted a special presentation of the CBC’s Opening Night, dealing with genocide – an issue that Khanjian has been fervently involved with, especially as an activist for international recognition of the historic Armenian Genocide.
Khanjian is an active volunteer and board member of arts groups internationally, including the Zoryan Institute, and The Power Plant, Canada’s leading contemporary art gallery.
Currently, in Toronto, Khanjian is starring on stage in the Canadian premiere of Marivaux’s Counterfeit Secrets, directed by John Van Burek.
Bruce Greenwood (Martin / Ussher) won rave reviews in 2001 for his portrayal of President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis drama Thirteen Days. The film also brought him mass audience attention, attention he has never particularly sought, but which his subtle and detailed portraits of memorable heroes and villains -- make long-overdue.
His first major role was as the second generation sex symbol and bad boy Dr. Seth Griffin in the long-running hit drama St. Elsewhere. When the series ended, he starred in biopics like Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys (1990) and glittering soap operas like Judith Krantz' Dazzle (1995) and in the now-revered cult favorite series Nowhere Man (1995-96).
In the early ‘90s, Greenwood began working in feature films and has since amassed an impressive list of credits. Before Thirteen Days, he was best known to wide audiences as the husband-victim-villain in 1999’s surprise hit Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd, he is starring in the upcoming supernatural thriller Below for Miramax. His greatest acclaim had come from his work in independent film: as the grieving father of two children killed in a school bus accident in Atom Egoyan's searing The Sweet Hereafter (1997), for which he received a Genie Award nomination as Best Actor, and for his work in Egoyan’s earlier Exotica (1994).
Eric Bogosian (Rouben) is the author of the plays Talk Radio (NYSF/Public Theater), subUrbia (Lincoln Center Theater) and Griller (Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and Baltimore’s Center Stage Theatre), and the solos Wake Up and Smell The Coffee; Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead; Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll; and Drinking In America, the last three for which he won Obie Awards. He wrote the screen adaptations of his first two plays, receiving the Berlin Film Festival’s “Silver Bear” for his work on Talk Radio.
As an actor, Bogosian has appeared in over a dozen feature films. He is best known for starring as the misanthropic “shock-jock” Barry Champlain in Oliver Stone’s film version of his own Talk Radio. In the past few years, he has appeared in films as disparate as Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry, Steven Seagal’s Under Siege 2 and the HBO movie A Bright Shining Lie. He recently appeared in the CBS film Blonde, based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel.
Bogosian’s work has been staged around the United States and the world. His solos and plays, as well as a novella Notes from Underground are published by Theatre Communications Group. A live recording of Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead is available on CD from the Blackbird Recording Company. His first novel, Mall, was just published by Simon & Schuster.
Brent Carver (Philip) is a major Canadian talent whose stage, television and film work has been much admired and celebrated. Carver is, perhaps, best known internationally for his performance as Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Toronto, New York and London productions), a role which earned him a Dora Mavor Moore Award, a Tony Award, a New York Drama Desk Award and an Olivier Award nomination. His 1998 performance in Parade was lauded by the New York critics and won him a second Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, as well as a Tony Award nomination.
His extensive stage credits include the recent Larry’s Party (Canstage); the title role in Don Carlos and Orante in The Misanthrope (Soulpepper Theatre Company); Donnie in High Life and David in Unidentified Remains and the True Nature of Love (Crow’s Theatre); the title roles in Richard III and Cyrano de Bergerac (Citadel Theatre); Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest and the title role in Tartuffe (The Canadian Stage Company); Ariel in The Tempest (Mark Taper Forum); Dubedat in The Doctor’s Dilemma (The Grand Theatre); and Ned Lowenscroft in Timothy Findlay’s Elizabeth Rex, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Emcee in Cabaret, Eiliff in Mother Courage, Don John in Much Ado About Nothing and the title role in Hamlet (Stratford Theatre Festival).
His filmed credits include Deeply, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Gemini Award-winning Lilies, Whiskers, The Edge: A Lover’s Lament, The Wars, The Song Spinner, Leonardo: A Dream in Flight and Young At Heart.
Marie-Josée Croze (Celia) has acted in numerous films in both English and French. Her most recent film was Denis Villeneuve’s Maëlstrom, for which she won the 2001 Genie Award for Best Actress as well as a Jutra Award in Quebec. Her credits include HLAidentique, La Florida and the television movie Murder Most Likely, which garnered her a Gemini nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Ararat marks the first screen role for twenty year-old newcomer David Alpay (Raffi). His only other acting experience was his performance of the tramp in a university production of Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard.
Alpay is currently studying at the University of Toronto, where he is a Class of 2003 Candidate for Honours Degree in Human Biology and French.. Since 1994, he has been the principal violinist for the Canadian Dance Tapestry, a group which showcases traditional Canadian music in festivals around the world.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Atom Egoyan (Director, Writer, Producer) Cairo-born, Canadian-bred and of Armenian descent, was raised in Victoria, BC, moving to Toronto at age 18 to study International Relations and classical guitar at the University of Toronto. It was there that he began to seriously explore the art and language of the cinema, and started making his own films which progressed to reflect his own, very personal thematic obsessions, delving into issues of intimacy, displacement and the impact of technology and media in modern life.
His debut feature, Next of Kin (1984) earned Egoyan the Genie nomination (Canadian Academy Award) for Best Director, and went on to win Germany’s Mannheim International Film Week Gold Ducat Award, receiving theatrical distribution around the world.
Family Viewing (1987) won the Locarno International Critics Prize, and was nominated for eight Genie Awards including Best Film, film gained wide notoriety when Wim Wenders declined the jury prize at the Montreal Film Festival for his own film Wings of Desire, and handed it over to Egoyan, his “Canadian colleague.” Next came Speaking Parts (1989), which marked his first Cannes premiere (Director’s Fortnight), and earned even more international acclaim and Genie Award nods.
The Adjuster (1991) premiered at Cannes in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs, and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. It went on to capture the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. 1993’s Calendar, shot in Armenia, earned the C.I.C.A.E. prize for Best Film in the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, and once again landed Egoyan Genie nominations for Best Direction and Screenplay.
Egoyan achieved a wider audience with the darkly mysterious Exotica (1994). The first English Canadian film to be invited into Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in nearly a decade, Exotica was awarded International Critics Prize for Best Film. Honoured by festival and critical associations around the world, Exotica received major worldwide release, including a 500-screen US release from Miramax Films. In Canada, released by Alliance, Exotica played theatrically for over half a year. The film swept the Genies, earning eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997) had its world premiere in Official Competition at the 50th Cannes Film Festival where it became the most-honoured film of the Festival, winning The Grand Prize of the Jury as well as the International Critics Prize and the Ecumenical Award for Humanist filmmaking. The movie then opened the Toronto International Film Festival where it was doubly honoured with both the International Critics Award and the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film. The Sweet Hereafter provided Egoyan a second sweep of the Genies by winning eight major awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sold to virtually every possible worldwide market, The Sweet Hereafter was the subject of unprecedented critical response, named to more than 250 major top-ten lists for 1997. The Sweet Hereafter held the top position on more than two-dozen of those lists, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. Egoyan received Academy Award® nominations for his Directing and for his Adapted Screenplay. This made him the first Canadian to be so honoured for work in a Canadian Film.
His two most recent film projects have been Irish in origin. In 1999, Egoyan directed Felicia’s Journey in Ireland and England. Based on the novel by William Trevor, starring Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy and Arsinée Khanjian, it premiered in competition at Cannes, before opening the Toronto Film Festival and holding the prestigious closing night spot at the New York Film Festival. Produced by Icon Entertainment, this film earned another four Genie Awards. Krapps Last Tape is an adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s stage-play, starring John Hurt. This has been seen internationally since premiering in 2000.
His other works include many short films and original programs for television as well as a number of art installations presented internationally (including the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, Venice Biennale, and, Le Fresnoy in France) . Exploring his long-standing interest in classical music, Egoyan made his debut as an opera director in 1996, with the Canadian Opera Company production of Salome. This production was subsequently presented in Houston and Vancouver before being remounted by the COC for a sold-out run in 2002. His original opera, Elsewhereless, composed by Rodney Sharman, written and directed by Egoyan premiered in Toronto in 1998, and was remounted in Vancouver. Later that year he directed the world premiere of Gavin Bryars’ Dr. Ox’s Experiment for English National Opera in London.
Egoyan's film works have been presented in numerous important retrospectives in major centers throughout the world. He has earned many exceptional honours in his career. There have been a number of books written about his work. TIME Magazine has named him to their “Global 100”, a roster of “young leaders for the new millennium”. He has been a member of the jury of the Cannes International Film Festival, and President of the Jury for Best First Feature Film at the Venice Film Festival. He was knighted by the French Government with the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, and has received the Anahid Literary Award from the Armenian Center at Columbia University, and was inducted into the Order of Canada. He has received honorary doctorates from universities across Canada.
His most recent work includes the installation Steenbeckett, for London’s Artangel’s 10th anniversary, and Hors D'usage, for Montreal’s Le Musée D'Art Contemporain, which will open in the Fall of 2002.
A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Atom Egoyan lives in Toronto, Canada with actress Arsinée Khanjian.
Robert Lantos (Producer) began his producing career as an independent film producer in 1976 with the low budget L’Ange et la Femme. While producing motion pictures he built Canada’s leading film and television company Alliance Communications Corporation, of which he was Chairman and CEO. In 1998 he sold his controlling interest in Alliance in order to focus on the creative process. He now produces films at his boutique production company, Serendipity Point Films.
His selected feature film credits include: Men With Brooms, directed by Paul Gross and starring Paul Gross, Molly Parker and Leslie Nielsen, which is currently in theatres; Stardom, directed by Denys Arcand, starring Jessica Pare, Dan Aykroyd and Thomas Gibson (Official Closing Night Selection, Cannes Film Festival and Opening Night Gala, Toronto Film Festival, winner of one Genie Award); Sunshine, directed by Istvan Szabo, starring Ralph Fiennes, Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris (a Toronto Film Festival Gala, winner of three European Film Awards, three Genie Awards including Best Picture and nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture); Felicia’s Journey, directed by Atom Egoyan, starring Bob Hoskins and Elaine Cassidy (Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, Official Selection in Competition, Cannes Film Festival, and winner of four Genie Awards); eXistenZ, directed by David Cronenberg, starring Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Willem Dafoe (winner of a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and a Genie Award); The Sweet Hereafter, directed by Atom Egoyan, starring Sir Ian Holm, and Sarah Polley (nominated for two Academy Awards®, winner of the Grand Prix and the International Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, winner of eight Genie Awards including Best Picture). Crash, directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Spader, Holly Hunter and Deborah Kara Unger (winner of a Special Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, six Genie Awards and the Golden Reel Award). Johnny Mnemonic, directed by Robert Longo, starring Keanu Reeves; Whale Music, directed by Richard Lewis, starring Maury Chaykin and Cyndy Preston (Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, winner of four Genie Awards and the Golden Reel Award); Black Robe, directed by Bruce Beresford, starring Lothaire Bluteau and Sandrine Holt (Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, winner of seven Genie Awards including Best Picture and the Golden Reel Award); Joshua Then and Now, directed by Ted Kotcheff, starring James Woods and Alan Arkin (Official Selection in Competition, Cannes Film Festival, Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, and winner of five Genie Awards); and In Praise of OlderWomen, directed by George Kaczender, starring Tom Berenger and Karen Black (Opening Night Gala Toronto Film Festival, winner of four Genie Awards).
Mr. Lantos' extensive television credits include the drama series Due South, Power Play, Bordertown, North of 60, E.N.G, made for television movies and mini-series include Shot Through the Heart(HBO), The Hunchback(TNT), Sword of Gideon(HBO), A Family of Strangers (CBS), and Woman on The Run(NBC).
Mr. Lantos is a member of the Order of Canada, a director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Toronto International Film Festival and Chapters Books. He holds an honourary Doctor of Letters from McGill University.
Sandra Cunningham’s (Co-Producer) career in film has taken her from Montreal, where she worked in film distribution and promotion to Rome, where she collaborated on numerous independent feature films and finally to Toronto where she is currently based. Sandra has worked as a Line Producer/Production Manager on numerous feature film projects of note, including When Night is Falling, The Adjuster, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter and A Map of the World. Sandra launched her producing career in 1996 with John L’Ecuyer’s Curtis’s Charm. Since then she has produced L’Ecuyer’s follow-up feature Saint Jude and, most recently, Robert Lepage’s Possible Worlds.
Simone Urdl (Associate Producer) joined Atom Egoyan’s Ego Film Arts in 1992. She has been involved in Calendar, Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, and has produced many of his recent short films and installation pieces.
In addition to her work with Egoyan, Urdl runs The Film Farm, her own production banner. Her producer credits include the film and projections for Egoyan’s opera, Salome, Phillip Barker’s Soul Cages (for which she and Barker shared a Genie Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film), and John Kalangis’ Genie-nominated feature Jack & Jill.
Upcoming projects for Urdl’s production banner include Peter Wellington’s Luck, Lara Fitzgerald’s Once Upon A Time in the East and a television series for the Toronto-based orchestra Tafelmusik.
Julia Rosenberg (Associate Producer) works at Serendipity Point Films where she develops and produces films directly with Robert Lantos. She is Associate Producer of Istvan Szabo's award-winning Sunshine, Co-Producer of Bruce McDonald's Picture Claire and Paul Gross' Men with Brooms. In 1997, Rosenberg joined Alliance Communications Corporation as Director of Development and Production where she oversaw the production of Robert Lepage's film, No, as well as many other Canadian and international films. Prior to this, she produced the short films Citrus, A Nous Deux, and Liquid Love, as well as a three-part documentary on fashion that she also co-wrote. Aside from producing numerous music videos and commercials, she also produced 2 for the internationally renowned dance company LA LA LA Human Steps.
Ararat is the latest project in the longtime collaboration of director Atom Egoyan and award-winning Canadian cinematographer Paul Sarossy. The two filmmakers have worked together on the films Felicia’s Journey, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, The Adjuster, Speaking Parts, and, more recently, the television production of Krapp’s Last Tape.
His other distinguished film credits include the upcoming On the Nose and Paid in Full, as well as Duets, Lakeboat (for which he also served as associate producer), Saul Rubinek’s Jerry & Tom, Paul Schrader’s Oscar®-nominated Affliction, Picture Perfect, Denys Arcand’s Love and Human Remains, Srinivas Krishna’s Masala, and Patricia Rozema’s White Room, among many others.
His work for television includes Rated X, Rocky Marciano, Mistrial and the “Soir Blue”episode of the series Picture Windows, Suzanne and Satie and Love and Larceny.
In addition to several international film festival awards and nominations, Sarossy’s honors include three Genie Awards (Felicia’s Journey, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica); a Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) Award for Best Cinematography in TV Drama (Rocky Marciano); CSC Awards for Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature (Felicia’s Journey, Exotica, White Room); an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for a Mini-series (Picture Windows); and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Cinematography (Affliction).
Sarossy recently finished work on his feature film directorial debut, Mr. In Between.
Phillip Barker’s (Production Designer) feature film design credits include Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter (for which Barker and Patricia Cuccia shared a Genie Award nomination for Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design) and Inspired by Bach: Cello Suite #4; Michael Snow’s Prelude, Mira Nair’s My Own Country and the Dutch film Zoeken Naar Eileen (LookingforEileen), which was directed by Rudolf van den Berg.
Barker’s stage design credits include Atom Egoyan’s Salome for the Canadian Opera Company (film and projection design), and Elsewhereless for Tapestry Music Theatre (set, projection and costume design). He recently designed the multimedia dance Still for dancer/choreographer Susanna Hood.
Barker is also an award-winning film director in his own right. His most recent short film, Soul Cages, has won Best Short Film Awards at The Local Heroes Film Festival and at The Atlantic Film Festival; Best Cinematography in a Short Film from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers; and, with producer Simone Urdl, Barker shared a Genie Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film.
Barker’s own art installations have been shown throughout Canada, Holland and Spain, including a video installation for the Canada Pavilion at Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain.
Beth Pasternak (Costume Designer) received a Genie Award nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter.
Her other design credits include the upcoming film Knockaround Guys, Committed, Saint Jude, New Jersey Turnpikes, Dirty Work, Curtis’ Charm, Dance Me Outside, I Love a Man in Uniform, Mustard Bath, Masala, White Room and The Top of his Head.
Ararat marks the fifth collaboration between Genie Award-winning editor Susan Shipton and director Atom Egoyan. Their work together includes Felicia’s Journey; The Sweet Hereafter (Genie Award for Best Achievement in Film Editing); Exotica (Genie Award nomination for Best Achievement in Film Editing); The Adjuster and “En Passant,” which was Egoyan’s contribution to the anthology Montréal Vu Par.
Shipton won a 2001 Genie Award for Best Achievement in Editing for her work on the film Possible Worlds. Her many other credits include Toy Soldiers, A Cool Dry Place, Blessed Stranger: The Tragedy of Swiss Air Flight 111, Love and Death on Long Island, Turning April, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Genie Award nomination for Best Achievement in Film Editing), When Night Is Falling, Mesmer and Oh, What a Night. In 1993, she received two Genie Award nominations in the same year for her work on The Lotus Eaters and I Love A Man in Uniform.
Shipton also wrote, produced and directed the short film, Hindsight (based on Dennis Foon’s play of the same name), which was invited to numerous international film festivals, including the 2000 Montréal World Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Short Film Festival.
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