Size 35 mm, length 76 min, color,
Dolby SR, 2001.
Language: English and Armenian.
Prints with English & Dutch subtitles.
Sale and distribution
by Don Film
Levon remembers his childhood in
Turkey: love, political brutality.
A bloody comedy.
Also a modern crime story about Armenian terrorists and Turkish secret
agents, about Kurds tragedy.
(From my letter to the commissioning
editor of the film, Mr. Joachim von Mengershausen, WDR).
" ... Do you remember the changes,
new episodes and new story-telling structure, which I wanted to bring
into the film?
In order to change the dramatic-external
balance of the film into the real, alive, exciting harmony. For it, I
need the story about the old rich Armenian, who organized strange
receptions and vanguard music-evenings in his house, with sweating
soloist, who bites his instrument with the gamble, with the famous
Polish film director (pan Vaida, on his shoulder the old and somewhat
disturbed servants, also a Pole, before excitement the whole tray with
filled wine glasses pours out - with the words "Porsche
Pan"(please, mister) and the owner of the house himself, that his
toy-bombs, the flying sheet metal-butterfly and jumped frog on his
guests lets go, then, as he has them enough. Sweet and with the
electronic full little animals call by the guests a delight forth, and
then horror and fright, as it incredibly loud and with much smoke
exploded and we see the cello hover, very slowly and quietly singing
through the area and in the panic fleeing guests...
Also Vano, carpet-seller, will receive
his second, secret life, as light-footed dead-angel for the Turkish
politician, as charming terrorist, as loner and successful lover. He
prepared the "liquidation" of the Turkish consuls in
Rotterdam, and executed them. He lures him with the picture of the
Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid The Bloody, which he has bought in the
auction house “Leo Jansen “. Secret connections consist between Vano
and the old man of uptown Rotterdam, who presumably finances this
terror-attack. Also the Kurdish topic in the film must
become reinforced. So much pain and so much injustice at Kurds! A short,
strong documentary will originate over the people, who burn, who set
themselves to fire. Dancing fire. Fire-human beings. Indifference and
complicity of the politics. The face of Ocalan, fully injected with
medications, doesn't leave my memory. I would like to shoot the Dutch part of
the film in 35 mm, in order to sense the difference between present and
past also in picture-quality.
The Harvard Film Archive about the film
Askarian’s most recent project is another meditation on the artist in exile. Like the
filmmaker Avetik and the real-life composer Komitas from his previous
films, Levon--a writer of Armenian extraction now living in
Rotterdam - is caught between memories of homeland and the realities of
contemporary life. From his Dutch domicile, Levon reminisces about his
brother-in-law (a hairdresser who robs dead Turks), a brilliant Kurdish
musician, a red-bearded executioner, a seventeen-year-old girl with
chestnut-colored skin, and a Turkish Apollo with eight wives who likes
to bury himself in hot ash. His memory is also populated by beautiful
thoroughbred horses, stray dogs, camel drivers, soldiers, and Turkish
policemen. These poetic, almost surrealist scenes of magic love and
political cruelty are contrasted with the reality of present day
Rotterdam, presented in the guise of a modern crime story with Armenian
terrorists and a Kurdish tragedy.
Taos Talking Picture Festival
Director of Programming
"We are delighted
that you have accepted our invitation to screen ON THE OLD ROMAN ROAD at
the 2002 Taos Talking Picture Festival, April 11 - 14. Every year, we
look at thousands of films and when one shines above the rest, as ON THE
OLD ROMAN ROAD did, it is indeed a pleasure. Don Askarian, recently
honored with a Harvard Film Archive retrospective, is considered the
greatest living Armenian filmmaker. In Askarian's latest film, which he
describes as “a bloody comedy,” a man in exile remembers a childhood of
magic and mayhem, complete with grave robbers, brutal assassinations,
horses, and men buried in hot ash. As striking a visual feast as one can
find, this is an extravagant and crystalline treasure, a film whose
rewards far outweigh its considerable demands."