‘Gate to Heaven’ to Be Released in US in October


LOS ANGELES — ARTsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation (US) announced this week that the film, “Gate to Heaven,” a film by Jivan Avetisyan, is included in this year’s AMC’s independent programming schedule. This is a highly competitive program, which accepts only 4-8 titles every year.

“Gate to Heaven” will see its theatrical release starting October 21, 2022 at the following locations:  Glendale, Detroit, Las Vegas and Orange.

“Gate to Heaven” is an international war drama starring Richard Sammel, Tatiana Spivakova, Sos Janibekyan, Leo Pobedonoscevas and Naira Zakarian.

In the midst of our unprecedented times coupled with the brutal war of Artsakh (Nagorno- Karabakh), “Gate to Heaven,” a film from Armenia/Artsakh, managed to receive a considerable amount of publicity especially in Europe, Russia, and the US. The riveting war drama takes place in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) during the four-day war in 2016.

The story, haunted by his past, German journalist Robert Sternvall returns to Artsakh after 22 years when the Nagorno-Karabakh war reignites to cover the conflict. In the result of his journalistic investigation, Robert meets Sophia Marti, a young opera singer, who happens to be the daughter of missing photojournalist Edgar Martirosyan, whom Robert abandoned in captivity during the fall of the village of Talish of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1992. As their romance develops, Robert’s guilty conscience catches up and he must face the truth of his past actions. Meanwhile the editor-in-chief of Berlin Post is preparing a grand exhibition to showcase Robert’s talent and celebrate his accomplishments, which is set to take place soon. Sophia is eager to attend the prestigious event not knowing what awaits her…

Director Jivan Avetisyan

German actor Richard Sammel – best known for his role as Thomas Eichhorst on the FX television series “The Strain” (2014–2017). He has appeared in more than 100 films and television series since 1991. An indelible performance in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” in 2009 brought Sammel international recognition.

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His other film credits include “Les Miserable du XX Siècle” for director Claude Lelouche; “Life is Beautiful” for director Roberto Begnini; the original “Taxi” written by Luc Besson; “Casino Royale” for director Martin Campbell; “Beauty and the Beast” opposite Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux for director Christophe Gans; and most recently McG’s “Three Days to Kill” opposite Kevin Costner.

“The most striking aspect of Avetisyan’s work is certainly the psychological depth of its main characters, in particular that of Robert and Sophia. Robert is a veteran in his field, incapable to achieve a good work-life balance, tremendously stubborn and characterized by a complex personality; meanwhile, Sophia is shown in all of her fragility and seems to believe in the healing power of music. Their romance is staged with no sugarcoating, but still with an adequate, credible level of tenderness and passion. In more general terms, the well-written lead characters are backed by solid interpretations and a good supporting cast. Worth mentioning in this respect are the performances from Sos Janibekyan (playing a local journalist accompanying Robert during his investigation), Leonardas Pobedonoscevas (Sophia’s partner) and Benedict Freitag (Robert’s editor- in-chief), whose appearances — brief but incisive enough — contribute to disclose part of the two leads’ backstories.

“Gate to Heaven” was recently included in Be Epic! London International Film Festival held on September 2-3, as the opening film of the festival. It won in the category of “Best Cinematography.”

Actress Tatiana Pivakova

“Gate to Heaven” won “Best Production Design” and “Best Sound Mixer” on April 15, 2022, at the third Anahit Film Awards held by Armenian National Film Academy. In addition, the film won four awards at the Ontario International Film Festival (ONIFF) in Canada on October 24, 2021: “Best Sound,” “Best Music,” and “Best Script for the International Feature,” and “Best International Feature Film.”

The composer of the soundtrack, Michele Josia of Italy, received two awards for his beautifully composed soundtrack. Silver Medal – Outstanding Achievement – “Soundtrack for Film and Television” at the Global Music Awards, California, (U.S.). Michele’s second recognition comes as a finalist for “Best Score of the Month” at the TMA – American Tracks Music Award.

Avetisyan is currently working on two other two feature film projects, titled “Revival” and “Black List,” which are currently in the development phase. “Revival” received international interest by the selection committee of Berlinale Talents, Berlin International Film Festival. Avetisyan was selected amongst 3,400 applicants to attend Berlinale Talents 2020.

“Black List” has been inspired by the life of Alexander Lapshin, a popular Russian-Israeli travel blogger who unwittingly found himself on Azerbaijan’s infamous Black List.

Actor Sos Janibekyan

Avetisyan spent 38 days in the September 2020 Artsakh War, which began at the end of September and ceased on November 9, 2020. He spent a substantial amount of time documenting all the atrocities and war crimes committed against the Armenian population of Artsakh including his family. He will integrate these photos and videos in his future film projects.

His quest is to continue to tell these stories, bring awareness on Artsakh, and promote peace through the art of filmmaking.


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