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The ArmFilm studios on the Ashtarak road out of Yerevan once thrived with productions but are now mostly moribund. Sergei Paradjanov (Parajanian) was born in Tbilisi and adopted the Russian -ov suffix to his name. Frequently out of favour with the culture moguls, he still managed to unleash camp-visionary theatrical films including Colour of Pomegranates, Sayat-Nova, Ashough Gharib and Souram Fortress in the 1960s and 1970s. The reward for his genius was four years’ hard labour in a Soviet prison camp. Two more films followed his release from prison but his final masterpiece, The Confession, was left unfinished with his own death. While the films may not have seen success in the USSR, he won fans internationally including Fellini and Bertolucci.

Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan has made several films on Armenian themes, including 1993’s Calendar and 2002’s Ararat, a film within a film on the genocide. Armenia is typical of Egoyan’s arthouse leanings, leaving you wondering about how it all fits together more than the subject matter. You could say the interweaving plot structure is intrinsically very Armenian. Calendar, another Egoyan arthouse classic, describes the story of a photographer sent to Armenia to shoot Armenian churches for a calendar. The plot, one of lost love, is filled with twists. Much of the dialogue between the characters was improvised.

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