LOS ANGELES — When Spanish filmmaker, Eric Boadella, experienced the ancient Armenian tradition of the tamada or toastmaster, “It was love at first sight,” he said.
From this initial reaction, Boadella found the inspiration to create the family-centered comedy-drama, “Toastmaster,” which recently premiered during the 27th Wine Country Film Festival, in Sonoma, Calif. The film tells the story of Uncle Kapriel who decides to teach his adult nephew, Alek, the family tradition of toastmaster, just in time for his mother’s wedding. But Kapriel does not expect Alek to uncover his uncle’s secret past.
Boadella was attending a social gathering when he encountered his first Armenian toastmaster. The tamada not only offers the traditional toast at a wedding or celebration, but serves as the master of ceremonies, directing other speakers and adding his (or her) personal flavor along the way. It could be the respected family elder, or the uncle who has a knack for storytelling, along with a sense of humor to entertain an entire family, or anyone up to the challenge.
Boadella explained, “I immediately admired this poet and master of improvisation. Almost magically, with each lyrical and clever toast, he eternalized the moment and shared the joy with his loved ones.” Inspired by the art form, Boadella said, “That night I realized the toastmaster and I shared the same vision. Although I use different tools than he does, cinematography and actors instead of poetry and vodka, the ultimate goal is the same: to immortalize a story. My admiration for the toastmaster was my catalyst for writing this humanistic story between two characters from two very different generations: Uncle Kapriel, the toastmaster and his nephew, the collector of stories.”