Cinema for Social Change

Back 23 June 2014 13:35
Cinema for Social Change

In collaboration with this year’s Golden Apricot Festival, proudly presents a number of screenings and workshops under the tagline “Cinema for Social Change.” What unites the many varied works selected for this program are the efforts of private citizens, alone or in groups, across many different countries, to attempt to change the social and political conditions of the places in which they live.  As might be expected, their standing up to what they see as injustice often leads them into conflict with their governments, their communities and even their families.

The films selected for our screenings provide a “global snapshot” of citizen activism – from the former Yugoslavia, Armenia and Poland to Mexico, China and Afghanistan. The program will be opened with Poland’s 2013 Oscar contender – 80 Million, by renowned Polish director Waldemar Krzystek. There’ll also be a screening of the Mexican film Presumed Guilty, about a famous miscarriage of justice that became a national scandal. The film will be followed by a discussion with Adam Michnik - leading figure of the Polish anti-communist resistance and the current editor-in-chief of Poland’s largest daily newspaper, Richard Pena - former Director of the New York Film Festival and Armenian journalist Nouneh Sarkissian with over 25 years of experience in broadcast journalism and independent media. 

In addition to the debate, Richard Peña will conduct two workshops during the Festival. Another highlight of the program is a screening of the documentary Beats of Freedom, which will be held in Boghossyian Gardens and open to the general public. The film is part of the Guide to the Poles seriesproduced by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, a national government institution responsible for promoting Polish culture abroad under the brand   

“Cinema for Social Change” is curated by Richard Pena and Adam Michnik and has been organized by as part of a program aimed at initiating and developing cultural cooperation and cultural exchange with Eastern Partnership countries.

Within the frames of the programme GOLDEN APRICOT will be honoured by the presence of Adam Michnik and Rochard Pena in Yerevan. Brief information on the guests is presented below.


Editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, the biggest daily in Poland. Historian, co-founder of KOR (Committee for the Defense of Workers), detained many times during 1965-1980, a prominent “Solidarity" activist during the '80s, he spent a total of six years in Polish prisons for activities opposing the communist  regime. A participant of the 1989 Round Table Talks, member of the first non-communist parliament
in 1989-1991, editor-in-chief of the first independent Polish newspaper – Gazeta Wyborcza. A recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from The New School for Social Research in New York, from the University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, and from Connecticut College; an honorary senator of the University of Ljubljana, and an honorary professor of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy. In September 2011 awarded with the Goethe Medal by the Goethe Institute. Author of countless essays,
articles and books, many of which were published in English, such as_Letters from Prison_. He has received numerous awards including theFrench PEN Club Freedom Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, The Erasmus Prize, The Francisco Cerecedo Journalist Prize as the firstnon-Spanish author, Grand Prince Giedymin Order; Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur.


Richard Pena was the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival 1988 through 2012. At the Film Society, Richard Peña organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Aldrich, Gabriel Figueroa, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura, Roberto Gavaldon and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Chinese, Cuban, Polish,
Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Soviet, Turkish and Argentine cinema. A frequent lecturer on a wide variety of film topics, he is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory
and international cinema, and from 2006 to 2009 was a Visiting Professor in Spanish at Princeton University. He is also currently the co-host of Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13 in New York.

In addition to the programm, Richard Peña will conduct two workshops during the Festival. The first, scheduled for 14 July 5:30 p.m., in TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and entitled “BUT IS IT ART? FILM AESTHETICS AFTER THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION”,will look at how changes in film production,
distribution and exhibition have challenged traditional ways of thinking about and responding to films. Through a variety of Internet platforms, artists can distribute their work directly to audiences, bypassing the filters of distributors or even festivals. Yet what have all this additional access, all these new visions and voices actually brought to the cinema?

The second, scheduled for 17 July, 3:00 p.m., at “Nairi” Cinema will examine “THE BEGINNINGS OF INDEPENDENT AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA” and will discuss this little-known movement of films  made by and for the African American community with little or no awareness of the mainstream, that is, white-controlled media. Along with clips from various films, audiences can enjoy a rare complete screening of The Blood of Jesus (1941, Spencer Williams).

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 Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation
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