Maria Saakyan's THE LIGHTHOUSE (aka MAYAK) (2006)
A rare L.A. screening of this modern classic of Armenian cinema: an astonishingly original debut from 27-year-old Maria Saakyan.
Jan 23, 2024, 8:00 PM
2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA
THE LIGHTHOUSE (Mayak)
directed by Maria Saakyan
2006, 78m, Armenia/Russia
In light of the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh—which has left tens of thousands of Armenians displaced after the ethnic cleansing of the Republic of Artsakh—we present this modern classic of Armenian cinema, screened for the first time in Los Angeles, to raise funds for refugees.
The first feature film to be completed by a woman in Armenia, THE LIGHTHOUSE is an astonishingly original and accomplished debut film from 27-year-old Maria Saakyan, whose life was tragically cut short in 2018. Set in a war-torn Armenian village at the end of the 20th century, a young woman (Anna Kapaleva) returns from Moscow to try to convince her grandparents to join her on a trip back to Russia. Eschewing plot in favor of a lyrical expressionism, Saakyan’s roving perspective creates a richly detailed and haunting portrait of a rural community, reminiscent at times of the carnivalesque ‘90s films of Emir Kusturica and the poetic montage of Artavazd Peleshyan. With understated performances by a cast of non-professional actors—as well as Sofiko Chiaureli, the muse of Sergei Paradjanov, in her final onscreen role—THE LIGHTHOUSE is that rare wartime folktale that resists maudlin sentimentality, and is among the most impressive debut features in recent years.
In Russian with English subtitles
"It’s natural to despise the values of the world when the atrocities of your homeland are repeatedly ignored. This can make one miserable or free. In THE LIGHTHOUSE, Maria Saakyan’s cinematic freedom transforms the death grip of war into pure oxygen. While special interests, oil money, and genocide denial campaigns shroud the injustices against the Armenians, Saakyan illuminates through light, shadow, and fog." -Christine Haroutounian