Vahan Bedelian

Cinematic Journey of Filmmaker Vahan Bedelian at Tribeca

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NEW YORK — Vahan Bedelian, 31, arrived in New York City from Irvine, Calif., his first visit in 20 years. He was one of the 127 filmmakers attending the Tribeca Film Festival in early June. “The K-Town Killer” is his eighth short film, and the producer has many more projects ongoing.

The Tribeca Film Festival is an annual event founded by actor Robert De Niro in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks, with the aim of helping revitalize the New York City neighborhood. This year, 109 films were screened over 12 days.

When one exits the Canal Street subway station to reach the festival, one is surrounded by noisy buildings, but a short walk brings one to a much quieter area.

Vahan Bedelian, a filmmaker, as well as journalists, actors, and security guards, are bustling through the hallway.

“I’ve wanted to get into a festival like this for 12 years,” Bedelian said in an interview.

Bedelian is reserved, but his smile conveys his emotions. For this independent filmmaker, having his film shown at the Tribeca Film Festival is a significant achievement.

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Bedelian was raised in an artistic home and always knew he wanted to be a director, thanks to the support of his musician parents. He has been producing short films for the past 11 years while attending Loyola Marymount University to study film production. After graduating, internships in post-production and production helped him develop his filmmaking skills. According to him, screening his short film at Tribeca requires a precise process: spending money on short films, facing rejections, making another one, facing rejections again, and repeating this process until it finally happens. When he learned about it, “it was the happiest day of his life.”

“The K-Town Killer” is Bedelian’s ninth short film. It is the story of a professional female fighter who is defending her mother from an abusive landlord. The film was co-directed by producer Haylin Kwon and Bedelian. Bedelian explained their choice to make the film’s lead character Korean-American: “It’s a story about the Asian-American experience, where a person defends their parent, which was a significant concern for us due to the numerous horrific stories about Asian-Americans being attacked in California, particularly in 2020, especially the elderly.”

Honesty and being true to oneself are also emphasized in the film. The mother of the female fighter is unaware of her daughter’s situation. Bedelian drew inspiration from his personal past for this story: “I used to train in kickboxing, and my mom was very concerned. She would say, ‘Oh, you’re just going to exercise, right? You won’t actually get hit in the head?’ And I would say, ‘Of course, I won’t get hit in the head.’ And then, of course, I would go and get hit in the head.” When Bedelian shared this with his coach, the coach responded that no mother would want to see their child with a head injury. And that was how the story began.

Bedelian’s portfolio features several works, including “Jacob + Malika,” a 2017 film that follows the journey of a Muslim girl who moves to the United States and falls in love with her American neighbor. The movie aimed to share compassion and cultural understanding, earning Bedelian the award of “Best Cinematography and Outstanding Writing.” Four years later, Bedelian released the short film, “Summer 16,” which captures nostalgia as it portrays a gamer’s quest for Pokémon intertwined with real-life troubles. This movie received the “Outstanding Fan Fiction” award at the Cleveland Short Sweet Film Festival. Additionally, “Fitz,” which is expected to be released in 2023, depicts the story of a self-driving car navigating Downtown Los Angeles’ complex parking issue while avoiding thieves attempting to hijack it.

Filmmaker Vahan Bedelian and the cast of “The K-Town Killer”

An Armenian Heirloom to Explore

Bedelian’s father is a Cypriot Armenian who arrived in California in the 1980s. Bedelian, who grew up in Irvine, a mere 40 miles from Los Angeles, home to the largest Armenian community in the United States, and found inspiration in his surroundings.

“Martial arts are a significant aspect of Armenian culture, and I began my videography career by filming fight promotions in Southern California, where the Armenian community is huge. The reason I became interested in martial arts was because of the Armenian people I knew,” he said. His works have also portrayed violence, and according to Bedelian, no one understands violence better than Armenians. Although Bedelian hasn’t yet featured Armenia in one of his films, he states that it is a future goal, once he will mark his path in the film industry.

Bedelian’s namesake great-grandfather playing the violin in an old family photo

Bedelian’s main story inspiration for a movie stems from his personal family story. He shares his name with his great-grandfather, who was renowned in Cyprus where he arrived after he managed to escape the Genocide in a remarkable manner: “He saved his family’s lives by playing the violin.” In 1915, Vahan Bedelian was living in Adana, Turkey, when he and his family were sent to Aleppo. There, they were on the brink of being deported to the desert, when he was hired to perform violin at a concert venue. Upon hearing his music, a Turkish official asked about the musician. They engaged in conversation, during which his great-grandfather explained the situation his family was facing. “The Turkish official said to him “No, you can’t go there. With your talent, you need to stay to play and teach violin”, Bedelian added. Vahan Bedelian and his family eventually moved to the island of Cyprus afterwards, in 1921. Although he never had the opportunity to meet his ancestor, Bedelian ensured his presence has remained alive in his family through storytelling throughout his life. “Something like that stays with you forever,” he concluded.

“The K-Town Killer” is available to watch on Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and web browsers on iOS and Android devices. Visit Vahan Bedelian’s website to learn more about his movies.

 

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