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Mаry Mamyan

Animated Film Extolling National Values Won’t Make It to the Big Screen in Armenia

Working with pencil, animation artist Igor Patrik sketches the next scenes of Vishapagorg (Dragon Carpet) a film that first appeared in 2007.

He’s working with Gayaneh Martirosyan to finalize the fifth and last installment of the film whose main heroes are Goharik, a school pupil, and the little dragon.

The two protagonists travel around the globe via a magic carpet. By following their adventures, viewers are introduced to Armenian fables and traditions, letters and culture.

Gayaneh, the film’s scenarist, says the film is an attempt to inculcate viewers with a familiarity of national values.  Sadly, the film won’t make it to a wide audience.

Armenia’s National Film Center placed an order for the film to be made, and the two artists do not have the right to market it.

Nevertheless, the two have made DVD copies of parts of the film; distributing them to people they know. The film has been televised twice

The artists do not know what will happen to the film once completed. When I asked if the film has ever been shown overseas, Gayaneh says no. Upon hearing this, a coworker smiles and says, “Yeah, it’s been shown. I sent a copy to America.”

The director corrects herself and says that she too has sent the film to the States, adding that while she doesn’t consider it a masterpiece, diaspora Armenians enjoy watching it because of its national flavor.

“It’s a children’s film and there aren’t many around today. It’s too bad that they won’t show it. They show foreign cartoons instead that aren’t for kids,” Gayaneh says.

Each installment of the film averages 20-30 minutes. But the six member team has only come up with a ten minute segment per year. Igor says there’s a lack of trained cartoonists and that the work is demanding and detailed.

“You have to get the movements just right. The stills have to flow naturally,” he says.

Igor says that there are probably decent young animators in Armenia; it’s just that the crew hasn’t located any. Even a good paint artist needs a minimum one year of experience to master the intricacies of cartoon sketching. He says that more women enter the field than men due to the comparatively low wages.

Igor paints all the movements by hand even though, as he notes, many have animators now use computer graphics. He says that they do not have the resources to buy such equipment, which makes the entire process drastically less time consuming. Nevertheless, he believes one still needs to know how to sketch by hand.

He’s been a cartoonist for over forty years and has produced such works as Hayeli (Mirror), Kadj Nazar (Brave Nazar), Dzakhord Panos (Unlucky Panos), and many others.

Igor says the interest in cartoon animation has waned in the post-Soviet era.

“We are just preserving what was there. Nothing’s being advanced,” says Gayaneh. “But even this is nothing to scoff at. Cartoon animation has died altogether in some countries.”

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