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I’m Going to Change My Name

Alaverdy

Maria Saakyan’s portrait of the subjective world of a 14-year-old Armenian girl uses images and words in a narrative technique based on Armenian song.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.


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  • Director-Screenwriter Maria Saakyan
  • Producer Victoria Lupik
  • With Evgeny Tsyganov, Arina Adju, Maria Atlas-Popova
  • Armenia-Russia-Denmark-Germany 2012
  • 96 mins
  • Production company Anniko Films

Based on the Armenian ‘Sharakan’, a nine-part song that brings us gradually closer to meaning, Maria Saakyan’s new film further develops the poetic invention apparent in her first feature, The Lighthouse. Focusing on the world of a 14-year-old girl, Evridika, who is experiencing the first extremes of adolescent emotion, it makes effective and imaginative use of her private world centred on internet chat rooms and mobile phone recordings. The film’s originality lies in a dream world of images and poetry (Rilke’s poems to Orpheus and Eurydice, and Saakyan’s own), in which the Armenian landscape also plays its role. Her mother’s former lover returns, giving rise to unforeseen consequences and parallels. Her film, says Saakyan, is designed to reflect the different dimensions of love. While this is a highly personal work, one can find influences as various as Tarkovsky and Maya Deren.
Peter Hames

Director statement

This is a film about the feelings of a 14-year-old girl. Even maybe not a film in traditional terms, but a kind of poem or song, words and images that her mind is full of. The main heroes of this poem are Body and Soul, Music and Chaos, Girl and Mother and also Love and Desire as 14-year-old Evridika understands it. This story starts with my own feeling of being lost. One day, I realised that I didn’t even feel alive anymore. And so I did the only thing that teenagers habitually do when they feel like this – I tried to hurt myself. I invented a story, a story out of my fears and pain, and it was like in the famous song ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash: ‘I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel, I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.’ From this moment the story of Evridika – a girl, who is living but who isn’t alive yet – begins. Day by day the story got more detailed and I found out that Evridika’s main problem was her mother and her unknown father. Evridika suffered from a lack of parental love. Evridika’s uncertainty in herself and her greatest wish – to be loved – all stemmed from this hole in her life. I found out what is happening with Evridika – she cannot trust anyone. That is why Evridika is afraid to love and has grown accustomed to finding answers to her most important questions on the internet and, surrounded by a multitude of falsehoods, she locks herself away in the world of her imagination/art. Accordingly, into Evridika’s path comes a man – Pyotr – who is, in fact, but unknown to her, her father. So, here starts her escape. I think that this is how Evridika herself would explain it: ’I was in a room where a woman was strangling her newborn child. I live in a world where cruelty is ever-present. I think that I was unwanted both by my father and mother. I am in so much pain that I cry out, but no one hears me. This is my song. And somehow now I am allowed to descend into Hell. As Orpheus sang after Eurydice’s death – and his song was so sad – he said he was allowed to descend into the Kingdom of the Dead. In the Kingdom of the Dead are the roots of all things. That is where my own roots lie. That is where I saw the Love that had once become the reason for my existence and I was reborn. I will love others not because that will make me less lonely, but because it is the only possible way of existing.
Maria Saakyan

Director biography

Born in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1980, she moved with her family to Russia in 1992 and later gained entrance to the film directing and animation departments of VGIK, studying under Vladimir Kobrin. In 2000-2003 she made a series of mini-films for a multimedia encyclopedia about WW2, and few experimental short films. She graduated in 2003 with a degree project Proshchanie (Farewell), which premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in Europe and at Telluride in the USA. Her first feature film was Mayak (The Lighthouse), which figured at the LFF in the midst of its many festival outings, while in 2007 she also worked as a second-unit director on the big-budget Aleksandr Melnik feature Terra Nova, shooting in the Arctic Circle. She commenced the lengthy script development of I’m Going to Change My Name in 2008, and a year later co-founded with Victoria Lupik the independent Yerevan-based film company Anniko Films. In 2010 Maria was selected for and participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus, and also made a short film for kids, Nakhodka.

Filmography

1999 Lullaby [s]
2000 The Game [s]
2003 Proshchanie (Farewell) [s]
2007 Mayak (The Lighthouse)
2010 Nakhodka [s]
2012 Alaverdi (I’m Going to Change My Name); Entropia

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