Amerikatsi (2023) Armenia’s First to Make the Shortlist B-

“Amerikatsi,” Armenia’s first showing in the Best International Film Shortlist, is the work of Armenian-American renaissance man Michael Goorjian, who not only wrote, directed, and edited the film but, in a burst of “Citizen Kane”- like exuberance, plays the leading role as well. In an obvious hommage to Chaplin – the bulk of the movie is silent – Goorjian plays Charlie Bakhchinyan, a bumbling Armenian-American, who, having survived the Armenian Genocide in 1915 (there are two flashbacks to Charlie as a toddler), ends up in New York. Thirty-three years later, he answers Stalin’s post-World War 2 invitation to the Armenian diaspora to return to the land of their birth. Unfortunately, the Soviet apparatchiks who are running the country don’t see things that way, and within twenty-four hours of his entering the USSR, Charlie is behind bars. However, in solitude, he discovers he can view a neighboring apartment from his cell window. As he observes the ongoing life of another Armenian and his family, he comes to reaffirm his devotion and love for his native country.


Despite the beatings and the solitary confinement, Goorjian keeps things on the lighter side with Charlie Chaplin’s three masterpieces “The Gold Rush,” “City Lights,” and “Modern Times,” and Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful” being hugely influential. The result is a film that walks a tightrope but contains some beautiful moments, even if, at times, it threatens to topple over.


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