Jivan Avetisyan’s Gate to Heaven ready for release
- The international war drama, co-produced by eight countries, will star Richard Sammel in the lead role
Gyumri-born, Artsakh-raised filmmaker Jivan Avetisyan’s new endeavour, a war drama entitled Gate to Heaven, is now ready for release. Before working on this project, the Armenian helmer directed over 20 documentaries and shorts as well as two features, Tevanik (2014) and The Last Inhabitant (2016).
The new movie, penned by the director himself, revolves around German journalist Robert Sternvall (played by Richard Sammel), who is haunted by his past and returns to Artsakh after 22 years when the Nagorno-Karabakh War reignites. Through his investigations, he meets opera singer Sophia Marti (Tatiana Spivakova), who is the daughter of Edgar Martirosyan, a man he abandoned and left in captivity in 1992. As their romance blossoms, Robert’s guilty conscience slowly engulfs him, and he must face the truth of his past actions. Alongside Sammel and Spivakova, the cast is enriched by the presence of actors Sos Janibekyan (Michael Movsisyan, a local journalist accompanying Robert during his investigation), Benedict Freitag (Eduard Hoffman, the editor-in-chief of Berlin Post’s publishing office, preparing for Robert’s grand photo exhibition), Nina Kronjager (Nina, Robert’s wife), Leonardas Pobedonoscevas (Serbian tenor Jean Milosh, Sophia’s partner) and Naira Zakaryan (Robert’s agent, Thereza Poghosyan). Furthermore, the technical crew includes DoP Rytis Kurkulis, composer Michele Josia, and production designers Sevakn Baghdasaryan and Jurgita Gerdvilaite.
Speaking about the project, producer Kestutis Drazdauskas, from Lithuania’s Artbox, told Cineuropa: “With a passion for Armenia’s history, Jivan Avetisyan brings to the screen stories from his native region with an unrelenting drive to reveal the truth behind the Nagorno-Karabakh War, and the impact it had upon the lives of those who experienced it, including Jivan himself. Depicting actual events at the centre of a narrative – the life of a German journalist who exploited his position for fame – Jivan draws us into the question wherein lie the borders of our own ethics.” Meanwhile, lead actor Richard Sammel added: “I was honoured to play the leading role. For me, this was a journey of epic dimensions. My character is drawn back into a foreign world of incredible beauty and conflict, where demons of guilt and love lie unburied. Where life-threatening solutions show what it means to be a human being. This is the place where a man understands that he is not the victim of his story, but the creator of it. With an international cast, crew and producers from eight different countries, Gate to Heaven embodies the true spirit of European collaborative creativity.”
Gate to Heaven is being produced by Fish eye Art Cultural Foundation (Armenia), Artbox Production House (Lithuania), 7 Morgen Filmproduktion (Germany), Glaam Media Invest (France), ARTsakh Arts and Cultural Foundation (USA), Timeless Production Group (Bulgaria), The Lab – a Media Production Company (Czech Republic) and Ala Bianca SRL (Italy). The project also received backing from the National Cinema Center of Armenia and the Swiss South Caucasus Foundation. Paris-based MPM Premium is in charge of its international sales. The film will be screened during this year’s Marché du Film Online on 22-23 June.
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