Arnold Ghazaryan

Arnold Ghazaryan – Filmmaker and 40 Day War Veteran

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(This is Part II of the series Inspiring Armenian Young Adults, which highlights the accomplishments of 4 of Armenia’s brightest, bravest, young adults. Their brief profiles showcase the talents of Armenia’s upcoming generation and shed light on the impressive achievements they have accomplished thus far.)

STEPANAKERT — Some people never find their calling in life; for others it never escapes their minds. Filmmaker Arnold Ghazaryan falls into the latter. Arnold is 20 years old, and was born and raised in Khachmach, Artsakh. At the young age of 14, Ghazaryan said after seeing a movie filmed in his village, “My love for film was born right away. I always truly believed in and stayed motivated to reach my goal.” For Arnold, to say has stayed motivated is truly an understatement.

For the majority of his life, Ghazaryan did not have access to the internet or to a camera in Khachmach, despite having a passion and love for films. One night, at the age of 14, he came to the decision that nothing would stop him from reaching dream, and started to work in construction to buy his first camera. He even admits asking his parents to give him the money he would have spent for lunch to go to his camera fund.

Another major steppingstone for Arnold beyond having a camera was the ability to attend classes at TUMO Stepanakert, a free educational center for teenagers ages 12-18 teaching technology and design. From the very first day at TUMO, he described himself as ecstatic for the opportunity to take cinematography classes and make his first short films.

After his courses at TUMO, Arnold at the age of 18 was enlisted in the Army and served as a tank crewman. Ghazaryan’s service in the Army coincided with the 40-day war in Artsakh and had a tremendous impact on his life both physically and mentally. During the war, Arnold sustained a leg injury and was taken to hospital in Yerevan. While recovering, he had the opportunity to film the music video for System of a Down’s (SOAD) song “Protect The Land”, working with director Armen Sujyan who he had met at TUMO. Ghazaryan ended up filming a sample video of his ideas and at 4 am the following day, woke up to the news that SOAD would like them to film the video. He notes that there were discussions on whether to film it with actors, but ultimately, he pushed for using authentic footage of actual people from Artsakh to capture reality. And that was only the first of his pieces connected with the 40 day war.

Earlier in 2021, Arnold used his own equipment to film “Arnold’s Story”, which chronicle’s his passion for cinematography, emotions after the war, and dreams to share Artsakh with the world through films. The film was narrated in the Artsakh Armenian dialect (with English subtitles), and part of a broader series called “The Future is Calling”.

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The Future is Calling, of which Ghazaryan is the CEO, is a collective of filmmakers and photographers from Artsakh, and he hopes it will grow to share with the world the hidden stories and voices of Artsakh.

More recently, Ghazaryan created a short film called “Bad Dream,” featuring his eight brothers and two sisters, with some scenes of himself included. It is an incredibly intense and personal film about the post-war realities for Armenians living in Artsakh, and can be watched online on YouTube. The film finishes with a powerful quote, that despite all of the hardships Artsakhtsis faced, it is “[o]n this soil we will bloom beautifully like a flower but with stronger roots and sharper thorns.” And Arnold hope that by making all types of films, not only documentary, he can get closer to this goal. In the future, he hopes to create movies, which in his own words “will have their roots in Artsakh but branches all over the world.”

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