“The Last Inhabitant” Strikes Chord

Rachel Melikian, Contributing Writer

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“God willing! But one’s heaven is in one’s birthplace. […] I wonder if there is a nation which has never lost its birthplace …” said Abgar. “Now I am on the run again.”

Directed by Jivan Avetisyan and filmed in his homeland, Artsakh (the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where the territorial and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region has been taking place since 1988), “The Last Inhabitant” was submitted for the 74th Golden Globe consideration and is coming to Glendale Sept. 15. The film received coverage from the Golden Globes Entertainment-News and it was one of the few out of 85 submissions.

Historically, since being conquered in the second century, Karabakh was an Armenian ancestral homeland. Stalin cruelly cut off Karabakh from the rest of Armenia. Today Artsakh, a Christian enclave, remains isolated from the rest of the world, bordered by Islamic Azerbaijan. It is struggling for self-determination to rejoin with Armenia. Artsakh still remains unrecognized and unheard with only a few defenders of truth: “I used to count 400 Grad missiles every day pounding in on Stepanakert,” wrote Baronesses Caroline Cox of Queensbury, vice-speaker of the British Parliament’s House of Lord, about the capital of Artsakh.

In the film all is in ruin – churches, cemeteries and cross-stones. The main character, Abgar, becomes the last inhabitant of the Armenian populated town, Gyurjevan, during the 1988 massacres. He stays behind in search of his adopted daughter. The enemy burned her husband before her eyes. It’s a trauma that continues to haunt her terribly. Abgar remembers how he took care of her daughter when she was two years old and wants to restore her to the child that he knew.

“The Last Inhabitant” is included at the world’s most prestigious film market, including the Cannes International Film Festival’s “Marche du Film” and Shanghai International Film Festival’s Panorama program. Before coming to Glendale, the film will be screened in Venice, Italy at the Venice International Film Festival.

The film runs through Sept. 21 at the Americana at Brand, and between Sept. 22 and 24 at the Starlight Triangle Square Cinema in Costa Mesa and at Starlight Whittier in Whittier. The soundtrack is composed by the lead singer of System of a Down, Serj Tankian. It stars Anne Bedian, Dimitra Chatoupi, Babken Chobanyan, Sandra Dauksaite-Petrulene, and other prominent actors.

Although the news headlines at the time did not cover Gyurjevan, the movie gives the viewers the opportunity to reflect upon how an entire nation became powerless before horrific cruelty, yet refused to surrender. This was a struggle not just for a nation, but for a people’s own existence. This is also why an Azeri mother in the film explained that when her daughter has been consistently unable to give life at childbirth, “a hand of an Armenian should touch the newborn baby and a Christian name should be given to it, for it to survive, to live” when no Armenians have been left except for the last inhabitant.

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“The Last Inhabitant” Strikes Chord