Taniel: a new arthouse film about Varoujan

Film Noir and Poetry handle the sensitive subject of the Armenian Genocide

“Taniel” is a short film about the arrest and murder of Armenian poet Taniel Varoujan in the Genocide of 1915.

Filmed in the style of film noir, with a poetry narrative in both Armenian and English, the film looks to take a different approach in dealing with a subject that is hotly denied in Turkey. British director Garo Berberian looks to show the human spirit of an individual lost in the tragedy:

“Varoujan was a sophisticated poet, a humanist who understood that a great calamity that was to befall him and his people and his words are prophetic. I want the viewer to feel sadness and shame at what happened, focusing on the human, the person, their talents and vision”

Unable to film in Istanbul, where Varoujan’s lived and wrote much of his works, the production team looked to recreate the historic look of the city in the Armenian town of Gyumri. Varoujan’s Armenian poetry is complemented by British writer Ben Hodgson’s verses, narrated by Sean Bean.

The film also features music by Philip Glass, Michael Nyman who composed music to raise funds for the 1988 Armenian earthquake and Gyumri’s favourite son, Tigran Hamasyan.

”Taniel” is currently taking part in the film festival circuit through 2018. It won two awards at the Bermuda International Film Festival and is selected to be screened at a few more currently, including Shetland’s Screenplay Festival, curated by Mark Kermode.

The film had a busy July in Armenia: there were two screenings at the Golden Apricot film festival, which was a great opportunity to meet film fans, journalists and fellow filmmakers and share the film with them. There were also further screenings in Gyumri, where the cast and crew were reunited with the director, and at Tumo Creative Technologies Centre. There was also a very special, emotional screening and poetry reading session at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, which was an amazing honour and very well received by the audiences.

Taniel is also just back from Australia, from a sold out screening at the intimate Armenian Film Festival Sydney and is also selected to be shown at the DC Shorts Festival in Washingon.

The film continues its journey around the globe, artfully showing the audiences the tragic loss of life of a beautiful poet, accompanied with his own words.


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Misak Ohanian (CEO) & CAIA Board of Directors.           20 June 2020