Director Terry George

20th Annual Arpa International Film Fest to Honor Hollywood Icons at Anniversary Gala

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HOLLYWOOD — Plans are currently underway for a spectacular weekend (November 3 to 5) marking the 20th anniversary of Arpa International Film Festivalhttp://www.arpafilmfestival.com/. The three-day festival will once again feature a dynamic set of films from around the world at the historic Egyptian Theatre. The weekend will culminate with a special Awards Gala Banquet at the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Sunday, November 5. Highlights of the Awards Gala Banquet will include a red carpet and cocktail reception, featuring an exclusive silent auction prior to the evening’s dinner and awards ceremony.

This year’s honorees include Oscar-winning Irish screenwriter and director Terry George, music icon Chris Cornell (in memoriam), acclaimed actor Carl Weathers, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris. Awards will also be presented to winning filmmakers for their films in the best feature, best documentary, and best short categories.

The Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award, presented each year to a filmmaker whose work contributes toward the struggle for social consciousness and human rights, will be awarded to Terry George (“In the name of the Father,” “Some Mother’s Son,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Shore,” “The Promise”) in recognition of his extensive body of work that has shed light on the situation in his native Northern Ireland, the Rwandan Genocide and the Armenian Genocide.

The award is named after the German soldier/medic who was stationed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, where he witnessed the onslaught of the Armenian Genocide. The photographs he took documenting the plight of the Armenians today comprise the core of the witness images of the Genocide. In the years following the end of World War I, Wegner also voiced his opposition against the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazis, who later persecuted him.

Arpa International Film Festival is honored to be presenting this year’s Lifetime Legacy Award to the late music icon Chris Cornell. Cornell, best known as the lead vocalist for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as the founder and frontman of Temple of the Dog, was also a human rights activist committed to the world refugee crisis and the despair of vulnerable children. The Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter’s last solo release was the charity single The Promise written for the motion picture of the same name. The Cornell family, along with special friends, will be present to accept the award.

Weathers, the actor best known for his portrayal of Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” series, will be the recipient of Arpa’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Hollywood veteran has also starred in hit films such as “Predator,” “Action Jackson,” “Hurricane Smith,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Little Nicky.” The former professional football player’s most recent project was directing John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.”

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Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris, best known for his original screenplay for the 2014 film “Birdman,” will receive Arpa’s Career Achievement Award. His body of work includes numerous theatrical pieces and musicals, including “The Bodyguard” (2012) featuring the music of Whitney Houston, and the critically-acclaimed “On Your Feet!” Broadway musical about the life and career of Gloria Estefan. Dinelaris’ earlier works include the powerful play “Red Dog Howls” in which he touches upon the Armenian Genocide. The piece was influenced by his Armenian grandmother, who played an important role in his younger years.

The star-studded evening will also feature special performances by theremin virtuoso Armen Ra and renowned vocalist Mister X. Armen Ra’s music fuses Armenian folk influences with modern instrumentation, along with melodic lounge standards and classical arias. The self-taught musician’s concerts are known for their combination of both visual arts and live music. A documentary on his life, “When My Sorrow Died,” premiered at Arpa International Film Festival a few years ago. Mister X, a renowned multilingual vocalist, has held concerts and taken part in music festivals around the globe. The classically trained singer has had a solo career spanning 17 years.

The festival’s opening night on Friday, November 3, will feature the French film Dalida based on the true story of the acclaimed music icon born in Egypt to Italian parents. The famous singer gained celebrity in the 1950s, singing in French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, German and Italian. She tragically committed suicide in 1987 in Paris, after selling more than 130 million records worldwide. The film is directed by Lisa Azuelos and co-produced by Vivien Aslanian.

Two of the films slated for the festival’s centerpiece program on Saturday, November 4, will be “Intent to Destroy,” released by Survival Pictures and the joint French-Lebanese production “The Traveller” or “Le Voyageur.” A final lineup of the festival’s film screenings will be announced soon.

In “Intent to Destroy,” Academy Award-nominated director Joe Berlinger embeds himself on the film set of “The Promise,” to take an unwavering look at the Armenian Genocide. Historians, scholars, and high-profile filmmakers come together in Berlinger’s cinematic exploration of the tangled web of responsibility that has driven a century of denial by the Turkish government and its strategic allies.

In “The Traveller,” Adnan, a travel agent in a small Lebanese village, has always dreamed of traveling the world, but never had the chance to leave his country. Married with a child, he lives with this fantasy until the day his boss sends him to Paris for business where his imagination begins to flourish with new romantic possibilities, to the point of forgetting his values, identity and family.

Over the course of 20 years, Arpa International Film Festival has continuously provided a platform dedicated to cultivating cultural understanding and global empathy for international cinema. Recognized as one of the oldest independent film festivals for international cinema in Los Angeles, Arpa has bridged cultural divides by fostering dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. By showcasing local, international and Armenian films that explore critical issues such as war, genocide, dual identities, exile and multi-culturalism, Arpa has solidified its role in safeguarding films that continue to make a social impact.

One of the overarching goals of Arpa Foundation for Film, Music & Art (AFFMA) in launching its signature Arpa International Film Festival two decades ago, was to create an arena that offers Armenian filmmakers, Armenian films and Armenian-themed films wider exposure in Hollywood. In light of its landmark anniversary, AFFMA has decided to create internship opportunities for students of Armenian heritage who are pursuing careers in cinema and entertainment. This will augment previous forms of support given to filmmakers over the past 20 years, and allow the organization to deliver an increased number of film screenings and other events promoting Armenian artists year round.

To date, AFFMA has awarded over 150 individuals with grants in support of their creative endeavors. Through its Arpa International Film Festival, AFFMA has recognized industry legends, with Lifetime Achievement, Career Achievement, Humanitarian and Breakthrough Artist Awards. Arpa International Film Festival takes great pride in working toward recognizing the diverse tapestry of international talent and presenting it to an appreciative audience. We place a strong emphasis on filmmakers’ unique artistic vision, cultural diversity and social understanding.

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