Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Atom Egoyan|
|Produced by||Atom Egoyan
|Written by||Atom Egoyan|
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Edited by||Susan Shipton|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
Ararat is a 2002 Canadian-French drama historical film written and directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Charles Aznavour, Christopher Plummer, David Alpay, Arsinée Khanjian, Eric Bogosian, Bruce Greenwood and Elias Koteas. It is based loosely on the defense of Van in 1915 during the Armenian Genocide, an event that is disputed to this day by the Government of Turkey. In addition to exploring the human impact of that specific historical event, the film also examines the nature of truth and its representation through art.
- Charles Aznavour as Edward Saroyan
- Christopher Plummer as David
- David Alpay as Raffi
- Arsinée Khanjian as Ani
- Eric Bogosian as Rouben
- Marie-Josée Croze as Celia
- Brent Carver as Philip
- Bruce Greenwood as Martin Harcourt, the actor playing Clarence Ussher
- Elias Koteas as Ali, the actor playing Jevdet Bey
- Lousnak as Shoushan, mother of Arshile Gorky
- Simon Abkarian as Arshile Gorky
- Garen Boyajian as young Arshile Gorky
Background and structure
Ararat depicts the efforts of an Armenian director, Edward Saroyan, to make a Hollywood-style film about the Armenian genocide, from the fictionalised point of view of a genuine historical figure, Arshile Gorky. The name of Aznavour's character is a modified version of his character's real name in the classic French film Shoot the Piano Player.
As filming progresses, various characters involved with it encounter the ethical problems that arise when adaptating contentious subjects into movies; for example, Ali is a Turkish-Canadian actor who becomes uncomfortable with playing the role of an evil Turkish military officer. There are also a number of secondary plots that relate to the genocide. One involves the relationship between Ani, an art historian who is an expert on Gorky and an adviser on Saroyan's film, and her son Raffi. Another features Raffi and a Canadian customs official, David, whose son is having a homosexual relationship with Ali, the actor in Saroyan's film. David stops Raffi at the airport, suspecting him of carrying drugs into Canada, disguised as film canisters.
The Italian release of Ararat was intended to for 24 April 2003. However, its showing was unexpectedly banned by Italian authorities a day before the planned release, with the authorities explaining that the film's distributor had failed to submit in time the application to obtain the required censorship certificate. The film's distributor BIM Diztribuzione stated that they had never encountered such a problem before. There was media speculation that the film had actually been banned at the request of Turkey.
Ararat won several awards. At the 2003 Genie Awards for best Canadian film, it was named best film of the year, and picked up awards for costume design and original score; in addition, Arsinée Khanjian won the best actress award and Elias Koteas best supporting actor. Egoyan won a prize from the Writers Guild of Canada awards, 2003. The film also won an award for best human rights film from the Political Film Society, and won the Golden Apricot at the Yerevan International Film Festival, 2004. An edited version of Ararat has been shown on the Turkish television station Kanal Turk.