By Artsvi Bakhchinyan
YEREVAN — Writer and director Eric Nazarian was born in Armenia and moved to the United States as a young child. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. The world premiere of “The Blue Hour,” his first feature film as writer-director, took place at the 55th San Sebastian International Film Festival and was nominated for the Altadis-New Director’s Award.
“The Blue Hour” had its US premiere at the 10th Arpa Foundation for Film Music and Art (AFFMA) International Film Festival, where Nazarian received the best director award. The film also won four prizes in the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival in 2008. The drama, composed of four stories about working-class lives near the Los Angeles River, examines the everyday lives of ordinary Californians. In November 2008, Nazarian was among six screenwriters who were selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as winners of the 23rd Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for his screenplay “Giants.” Each writer received a $30,000 prize.
Below is his interview with Bakhchinyan.
Artsvi Bakhchinyan: Eric, your film presents the problem of loneliness and lack of communication in modern Western society. The separate stories, united with the common geographical milieu and likeness of souls of the heroes, reveal human fates and characters in an interesting way. How you came into this?
Eric Nazarian: I am very interested in the theme of communication and language in society. Especially in a global society like in Los Angeles where we live side-by-side, usually unaware of the people we pass by in the street. I look for ways to tell stories cinematically. Cinema has its own language for storytelling. It is different from prose and literature and radio. In cinema we do not need words but images to express ideas. The palette of non-dialogue fits well with the theme of non-communication between people. With “The Blue Hour,” I wanted to examine this theme of non-communication between people who live alone side-by-side but are worlds apart due to the circumstances of their lives and the isolating geographical make-up of the city. I wanted to make a film about non-communication using as little dialogue as possible. My thematic inspiration was to go back to the roots of cinema and make a film that would not require subtitles to be understood. I was interested in showing the interior lives of the characters and their very peripheral connection to the river, a place where very different people walk the same roads but are not aware of each other and communicate only with themselves. In the first story, “Island in the River,” Happy, the graffiti artist, communicates with her art by drawing the crying clown on the side of the river. The music communicates with her more than her mother does as we hear them arguing at home in the evenings after work.