DIRECTOR: MICHAEL GOORJIAN STARRING: MICHAEL GOORJIAN, HOVIK KEUCHKERIAN, NELLY UVAROVA, NARINE GRIGORYAN, MIKHAIL TRUKHIN RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 55 MINUTES
Charlie escapes the Armenian genocide as a boy by fleeing to the United States, but he returns as an adult and is arrested. He watches an Armenian couple from his prison cell, finally learning about his homeland.
“No matter what happens in life, you must always keep your beautiful smile.”
Amerikatsi is the International Feature submission for Armenia. The film is about Charlie, who escaped Armenia, which was then Turkey, as a four year old during the Ottoman Empire in 1915. 30 years later, in the aftermath of World War II, Joseph Stalin offered to pay survivors of the Armenian Genocide money to return back to Armenia, which was still under Soviet control. In 1948, Charlie decides to come back home, despite being an American citizen, as his wife just passed away, and he longs to hopefully be re-united with family and learn more about his culture.
Just having arrived back to Armenia, Charlie meets a young boy and his mother Sona. She’s the wife of a powerful government official. As a result of his innocent flirting with her, he is imprisoned on bogus charges, citing public displays of religious propaganda and glorifying materialism as the reasons for his arrest. He is sentenced to ten years in jail.
At first, he is extremely despondent, but after an earthquake hits the jail, and part of the prison collapses, Charlie realizes that he can now observe the day-to-day life of a young couple, Tigran and Ruzan, living in an apartment that’s located across the street from his cell. This now gives him an opportunity to observe this couple as they dance, play music, play games and entertain family and friends with dinners. Charlie is about to learn the Armenian way of life.
Charlie develops a deep connection with the couple, especially Tigran as he eats his meals at the same time, joins in toasts and boardgames, he even begins to paint drawings and learns how to dance. Amerikatsi is funny, but more importantly it is hopeful and emotionally touching. The film allows the bitter sweet tone to remind us of the humanity that exists amongst an environment of depravity, violence and repression.
To all Armenians scattered across the Earth who can see past the walls that separate us and create a new Armenia. May we build upon our smiles instead of tears.