Arlington International Film Festival Oct. 17-21 to Feature ‘Grandma’s Tattoos’


ARLINGTON, Mass. — The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) is a celebration of cultures as well as a platform for recognizing the common global human experience. The festival’s mission aims to foster appreciation for different cultures by exploring the lives of people around the globe through independent film — to nurture the next generation of filmmakers within our community.

The festival features narrative, documentary, experimental and animated features and shorts, including a special category of short submissions from local high school and college filmmakers. Several World, East Coast, and Massachusetts premieres will be featured during the five-day festival.

The second AIFF, scheduled for October 17 – 21 at Regent Theatre, will open with the film awarded Best of Festival, “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert.” Filmmaker Vivian Ducat and subject Rembert will be participating in a moderated discussion/Q&A session following the screening.

A feature documentary, the film chronicles the life of Rembert, a 66-year-old African- American who grew up in Cuthbert, Ga. Rembert spent most of his childhood working

in the cotton and peanut fields. When he could attend school he loved drawing but not much else. Attendance at a civil rights demonstration got him thrown in jail without charges or a trial. An escape over a year later resulted in a prison sentence, but only after Rembert had survived an attempted lynching. While serving seven years on Georgia chain gangs, Rembert fell in love with both his future wife and with leather as an art medium. Life and eight children intervened after prison; it was not until 1995 that Rembert began to carve, tool and then dye pictures on leather in his studio in the front room of his home in New Haven, Conn. Most of his colorful art depicts scenes and themes from African American life in segregated Cuthbert, and from the time he spent on those chain gangs. His work was exhibited at the Yale University Art Gallery in 2000 and a triptych about a lynching was acquired by Yale for their permanent collection. Rembert subsequently exhibited at various other venues. His first major catalogued one-man exhibition was presented in New York in 2010 by Adelson Galleries in association with Peter Tillou Works of Art.

Rembert and his family still live in New Haven’s inner city. In 2012 a traveling exhibition, a retrospective of Rembert’s art, was curated by the Hudson River Museum, where it showed from February to May. It exhibited at the Greenville Art Museum in Greenville, SC, through August 2012.

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On Saturday, October 20, among the films that will be shown will be “Grandma’s Tattoos.” At 6:45 p.m., Martin Haroutunian and friends will perform Armenian music, with a discussion with the director after the film. Filmmaker Suzanne Khardalian makes a journey into her own family to investigate the terrible truth behind her late grandma’s odd tattoos. Her grandma was always a bit strange, never liking physical contact and covered with unusual marks. Everybody in the family seemed to know the story, but no one ever spoke about it. So when grandma’s mystery is slowly unveiled, family taboos are broken down and Suzanne exposes the bigger story – the fate of the Armenian women driven out of Ottoman Turkey during the First World War. The painful journey behind Suzanne’s grandma’s tattoos unfolds through Armenia, Lebanon, Sweden and Syria, finally bringing out the truth.

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