Every morning before dawn Father Zakaria Baghumyan joins his brothers at the Mother See of the Holy Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, for prayers and contemplation. Then he logs onto his computer. The bearded archimandrite in a long, black cassock juggles his studies about the Christian dogma he is the supreme doctor of and a daily virtual connection with the world at large. He is known as the “cyber priest.” There is no conflict between technology and spirituality, believes the 39-year-old senior archimandrite who has covered various positions in the communication and information service of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the contrary, the Internet provides with the opportunity to spread the Gospel beyond the high walls of churches and cloisters. Father Zakaria communicates daily with scores of his 5,000 Facebook followers, and, thanks to programs like Skype, he maintains direct contact with believers seeking his advice. “My aim is to bring people close to the church through social media,” he maintains.
Armenia’s Cyber Priest
Arthur and Ara are brothers and artists. Over 20 years ago, after the presidential elections in 1996, they started to involve themselves in protests and public disobediences in their country. The brothers are among a few artists who do political art in Armenia (graffiti, performances, video art, etc.) They are convinced that all elections in Armenia are being disassembled by the government, and that their contribution to political activism can help people fight for their rights.
The Soldiers of Justice
Rich vineyards, fertile pastures, and most arable land lie along the road connecting the two Armenian villages of Baghanis and Voskepar. The stretch of tarmac in the north of country is part of the artery linking Yerevan to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. It also leans onto the border with Azerbaijan and shootouts from the other side have become increasingly regular. Yet, villagers and drivers have no other choice than to keep up with their daily life. ["Driving Along the Shooting Line" was filmed at the end of October 2016]
Driving Along The Shooting Line
Hayelektro was an engineering giant in Soviet Armenia -- from the 1940s through the 1990s it employed thousands in the production of generators, transformers, and household appliances. Khachatur Vardanyan, now 60, was one of them. When the Soviet Union crumbled, complexes like Hayelektro and workers like Vardanyan, were the first casualties. Few were able to reinvent themselves and get a new profession -- even fewer succeed. Lusine Balyan’s short film showcases people who had successful careers in the USSR’s vast industrial empire, who then lost their role, yet managed to reinvent themselves. They adapted to the new order of life, transformed their old skills into the ones that the labour market needed, and found new jobs and professions in an independent Armenia.
Hunting for Work After the USSR
Every morning before dawn Father Zakaria Baghumyan joins his brothers at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, for prayers and contemplation. Then he logs on his computer. The bearded archimandrite in a long, black cassock juggles his studies about the Christian dogma he is the supreme doctor of and a daily virtual connection with the world at large.
Armenia’s Cyber Priest
The thousand-odd residents of Apaga, a village by the Turkish border in western Armenia, have engaged in traditional farming for generations - ploughing the land, planting the seeds, watering and fertilizing the soil and picking up the veggies. So when microbiologist Artem Parseghyan, 29, and environmentalist Grigor Janoyan, 30, set up an aquaponics greenhouse in Apaga in 2013 their project raised a few eyebrows. Yet, the UK and German-educated Armenians maintain that the innovative system may save farmers in the Armavir province, one of Armenia’s poorest, where large swaths of land have become difficult to cultivate due to increasing levels of salinity.
Aquaponics, or Bringing the Farming of the Future to Armenia
When Mkhitar Khachatryan went to Gyumri to document the 1988 earthquake, he was not ready for the tragedy unfolding before his eyes and lenses. Among the ruins and the desperation, the then-28-year-old photographer ended up shooting an image of a mother with her three children clinging to her. The photo was published across the world, becoming a symbol of despair as well as life.
Gyumri: 38 Hours Under the Rubble
The explosion threw Sargis Stepanyan’s body up into the air and dragged his spirit down to the ground. When the then 31-year-old army major regained consciousness in a Yerevan military hospital, he could tell his legs and right arm were gone.
Armenia’s Para-Armwrestler: Redefining Victory
Digging into what lays under the surface is almost a vocation for Zhanna Aleksanyan. So when the Armenian military Prosecutor’s Office charged a murdered soldier with four crimes, including sexual assault, the 63-year-old journalist started working with a fellow journalist to investigate the case - the soldier had died under unclear circumstances, but the charge meant that the military investigation was likely not to proceed.