With Don't Look into the Mirror/Mi nayir hayelun, Armenian helmer Suren Babayan directs an ambitious adaptation of the novel written by Perch Zeituntsyan. Producer Vardan Abovyan told FNE that he was fascinated when reading the script "by the way it dealt with the material from the novel," and found "its language was readable for the audience."
The story of a aging man with artistic ambitions who discovers a more appealing double through the looking glass has been transformed into a surrealistic tragi-comic film involving 3D graphics.
"I can say the film is rather far from the original novel," Babayan told FNE. "It was impossible to remain true to the original novel as its literary language was not close to the cinema language."
The film is quite expensive for an Armenian production. The producer Vardan Abovyan told FNE that the budget was 282 million drams (705,000 USD), adding, "The challenge of the production was financial at first, and then related to the difficulties connected with 3D graphical solutions."
"In the film only some episodes are shot in 3D. It was the first attempt in Armenia to shoot a film with such high quality, and the difficulties were mainly technical but they were solved during the production," Abovyan said.
The film is produced by the National Cinema Centre of Armenia (www. ncca.am, site under construction). The main character is played by the Armenian actor Jean Pierr Nshanyan, previously cast by Babayan in Jeano, and also in Andrew Niccol's Lord of War with Nicolas Cage.
Armenian critics who saw the film at its first screening in Yerevan last October said that it might be the best film of Suren Babayan so far. The director, born in 1950, graduated in theater direction from the Yerevan State Institute of Cinema and Theater (1972), and in film direction from the Higher Courses at the Moscow State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), in Nikita Mikhalkov's master class (1980). His first feature, The Cry of a Peacock/Siramargi tchiche (1982), was co-directed with Mikael Dovlatyan. He directed his first solo feature in 1987: The Thirteenth Disciple, based on Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. He also directed the feature drama Blood/Aryun (1990), the short P.S. (1993), Crazy Angel/Khent hreshtak (2000, based on the novel Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist), and Jeano (2004).
Babayan is now working on a new project, Black Book, Heavy Beetle,based on the work of the modern Armenian writer Levon Khechoyan, preventing him from attending Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Besides, his work didn't allow him to spend a few days at the Czech Embassy in Armenia in order to get a visa, he told FNE.
The National Cinema Centre of Armenia
Tereyan 3a Armenia
Phone: +374 105 182 31
Fax: +374 105 002 31
www. ncca.am (site under construction)
Director: Suren Babayan
Screenplay: Suren Babayan based on the novel by Perch Zeituntsyan
DOP: Gevorg Sarkisyan
Music: Eduard Hayrapetyan
Designer: Vardan Sedrakyan
Editor: Artur Soghomonyan
Producers: Gevorg Gevorgyan, Vardan Abovyan
Cast: Jean Pierr Nshanyan