winner alone 350 51218Rico St. Paul displays his winning poster for the Arlington International Film Festival. / Photo: @jav__castillo

Arlington International Film Festival signaled its upcoming start with "An Homage to the Armenian Community in the Greater Boston Area."

The New England premiere of "Crows of the Desert -- A Hero’s Journey through the Armenian Genocide" occurred Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:30 p.m., in the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown.

The 62-minute documentary is by Marta Houske, a U.S. writer, director and producer; executive producer Paul G. Turpanjian and music by John Massari.

A Q&A follows the screening with Levon Parian, a renown photographic artist and grandson of the subject, Levon Yotnakhparian. Parian’s work will be on exhibit in the lobby of the Mosesian Center.

The film festival is proud to announce its first partnership with the Mosesian Center for the Arts to present this award-winning film in commemoration of the Armenian genocide and an homage to our Armenian community. This event rolls out the red carpet for the eighth annual film festival, set for Nov. 1 through 4 at the Capitol Theatre.

"Crows of the Desert" is a documentary based on the memoirs of Yotnakhparian. The film recounts the incredible true story of one man’s desperate struggle to not only stay alive but to help save his people from near extinction in the 20th-century’s first genocide.

World War I was raging in the Middle East, as the British fought side by side with the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire. Amid the chaos, Levon led a small expeditionary group on a daring mission to rescue the scattered, destitute survivors of the Armenian genocide. Along the way, they would risk their lives countless times, endure unimaginable hardships and cross paths with some of the 20th century’s most legendary figures, such as Prince Faisal and Lawrence of Arabia.

 Extraordinarily rare film footage and photographs, as well as recently rediscovered documents, have been gathered from archives around the world to reveal a harrowing journey that is at once heart-wrenching and inspirational.

Tickets $15 at the door or online >> 

“The Armenian genocide was the ruthless slaughter of millions of Armenians by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire,” Levon Parian said. “In 1915, during World War I, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country.”

Parian has been referred to as a philosopher and poet of the camera, a renowned photographer whose work encompasses the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. His experimental style pushes the boundaries of photographic self-expression and has been collected by private individuals as well as museums, and universities. He was honored with his artistic colleagues by Foreign Policy magazine as being “among the 100 leading global thinkers of 2015.”

The award was for “preserving the history of a genocide” through the innovative, larger-than-life public installation “iwitness,” showcasing portraits of Armenian genocide survivors created in commemoration of the 100th anniversary. The installation was the first of its kind in Los Angeles’ landmark Grand Park and led to the first permanent memorial in Los Angeles to the genocide of 1915. Parian has taken his grandfather’s memoirs, editing and translating his memories to give us this firsthand account of the genocide.

The Mosesian Center for the Arts (formerly the Arsenal Center for the Arts) is a vibrant multidisciplinary community arts venue in Watertown This 30,000-square-foot former U.S. Army arsenal is home to the 380-seat Main Stage Theater, a 100-seat Black Box Theater, Exhibition Galleries, two rehearsal halls, education classrooms and resident-artist studios.

Offerings include visual- and performing-arts productions, classes and workshops for all ages, literary/art discussions, and world-class theatrical and musical performances. The center is home to the award-winning Watertown Children’s Theatre as well as New Repertory Theatre, Professional Theatre Company in residence.

For the past eight seasons, the Arlington event has curated a festival in the fall that celebrates the very best of indie local, national and international films for audiences to enjoy.

Festival set for Nov. 1-4


Festival passes were available at the discounted price of $65 until Sept. 30 (regular $85); a memorable selection of documentary and narrative short and feature films from around the world await our audience. All-Access Pass includes opening-night screening and after-party at ZA Restaurant, priority seating to festival screenings, Q&A’s and panel discussions, student-film program and award reception at Fox Library. 

This year's festival is scheduled for Nov. 1 through 4 at the Capitol Theatre, East Arlington.

Arlington Friends of the Drama is a partner with the festival. Founded in 1923, AFD is one of the 10 oldest continually operating community theater groups in the United States.

Visit for details. 

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Storyteller named AIFF opening-night emcee

Storyteller Theresa Okokon will help launch this year's Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF).

She will be the master of ceremony for the opening night, Nov. 1, at the Capitol Theatre. As a storyteller, social worker and yoga teacher, Okokon embodies the spirit of the festival through her multifaceted work building communities through art and self-expression.

In its 8th year, the festival welcomes this dynamic voice to kick off this cinematic celebration of culture and story. A Wisconsin native, Okokon has been telling first-person, personal stories around Boston since 2012. She is the cohost of "Stories from the Stage," a televised story-telling show that is a collaboration between Massmouth, WGBH & The World Channel, and filmed live at the WGBH studios in Boston.

Okokon has competed in the Massmouth finals multiple times and won third place in season 5. She has been a featured teller with Massmouth, StorySpace, The Story Collider and Suitcase Stories. She also served as a board member for Massmouth in 2015-16. Okokon has taught storytelling and coordinated story-telling shows for various organizations around Boston and New York, and she shares the stories of other Bostonians as a with "Everyday Boston."

In addition, Okokon is the founder of a small business,, where she provides trauma-informed yoga at Boston-area homeless shelters, low-income housing communities and alternative schools. She works part time supporting the development team at the International Institute of New England, a nonprofit organization that provides resettlement and educational support to refugees.

Community-media author Erica Jones to run red-carpet opening night

The festival has announced that Erica Jones, membership and outreach director at Somerville Media Center, will be the red-carpet interviewer for the festival’s opening night, Nov. 1. Live from the lobby of the Capitol Theatre, Jones will be interviewing filmmakers and panelists who were involved in creating the collection of films to be shown at this year’s festival.

Since beginning her career in 2009 with community media, Jones has developed a better understanding of grass-roots, community media and its significant role in our technologically driven society. She believes that, through the use of media and storytelling, social change can take place, which can offer a glimpse into the injustices and uniqueness of many communities. Jones reflects the values of AIFF through her belief in the power and importance of community media, and we are honored to have her tell the story of how the eighth film festival was curated.

Originally from upstate New York, Jones calls Somerville home and embraces her role at the media center. Some of her responsibilities involve marketing and communications, event coordination, partnership and community building, member engagement and support and intern supervision and mentorship. Not to mention her extensive work facilitating community media productions such as Hello Neighbor, Duck Village Stage Sessions, SCOUTV, Somerville: The Good Ole Days, Aging Well, Legacies: a Journey through the Interesting Lives of Elders, and Maker Space.

Jones also enjoys collaborating on digital storytelling programs which increase awareness about issue-based topics impacting the citizens of Somerville. She has founded several program series that bring people together over a shared passion for film, the media, and community such as the Cinema Somerville Film Screening series, Rough Cut Media Series, and Potluck & Lecture Series. Jones serves as the chair of the Alliance for Community Media Northeast Region board of directors.

HUMANITAS Prize partners with AIFF

First time working with independent film festivals in 44 years

The festival has been invited to participate in the 44th annual Humanitas Prize, taking place next February in Los Angeles. For the first time in the organization’s 44 years, Humanitas is including independently produced festival films in its prize event.

The Humanitas Prize is an award for film and television writing intended to promote human dignity, meaning and freedom. For the past decade, Humanitas partnered solely with the Sundance Film Festival. Executive Director Cathleen Young says the decision to include independently produced festival films in this year’s prize is to “expand our reach in order to expand our impact.”

Since its founding in 1974, Humanitas has been dedicated to empowering writers to tell stories through film and television that convey the human experience. Young believes that especially in today’s political climate,

Humanitas recognizes the importance of supporting up-and-coming filmmakers “for the health of our democracy.” 

The winner of the Humanitas Independent Feature Film Award will receive a trophy and a cash award of $10,000. 

Past winners have included MATT RUSKIN - Crown Heights, RYAN COOGLER - Fruitvale Station, DAMIEN CHAZELLE - Whiplash,

CHERIEN DABIS - Amreeka, PARIS QUARLES - A Raisin in the Sun,

and SALVATORE STABILE - Where God Left His Shoes. 

The Arlington International Film Festival encourages its 2018 filmmakers to apply for this award. Submissions will be accepted beginning Sept. 1. 

For more information about the prize, click here >>

Poster unveiled for 8th Arlington International Film Festival

Diverse range of arts showcased at AFD Theatre

Amid dance, story and a hopeful discussion of town arts, organizers kicked off the eighth annual Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) by announcing the winner of its poster contest.

Rico St. Paul, a junior at Mass College of Art & Design, was awarded a cash prize of $500. Recognizing the native of Everett were those who chose his work -- David Ardito, Jennifer Cheng DesAutels, Marc Gurton, Erica Licea-Kane and Niloufer Moochhala.

This is the second year the festival has partnered exclusively with Robert Maloney’s Experimental Illustration class at MassArt. Vying for poster honors were Ariel Brenna, Aiden Gerstmyer, Kelsey Grass, Austin Harvey, Matthew Jenkins, Madeline Morizzo, Eliza Petithor and Rachel White.

More photos >>

St. Paul said, "Yearning for spring, I approached this piece to commemorate the birthing of a new digital age. Using both traditional and digital materials, from micron pen to found branches to Photoshop blending modes, intended to communicate a directed unison of these methods of creation, both in the future of illustration and cinematic age."

The festival organizers, J. Alberto Guzman and April Ranck, recognize that graphic design is a powerful tool to transform and communicate, as they congratulated St. Paul on a compelling design that will become the international face of the 2018 festival.

The opening reception, held April 26 at the Arlington Friends of the Drama, began with music provided by Colombian musicians, Nicolas Castaneda (harp) and Javier Vivas (clarinet).

In the theater the program was MC’ed by James Milan, outreach coordinator for ACMi. It began with a performance titled “Dream” by the dance troupe led by artist, choreographer and teacher Siwen Jiang. Watch the performance >>

 A conversation with Adria Arch and Stephanie Muriel, cochairs of the Arlington Commission on Arts & Culture plus Jennifer Raitt, town planning director, focused on the partnership in its support of the arts in town. The conversation provided an overview of the history of the commission, its helping to achieve a state-approved cultural district for Arlington. Hear the conversation >>

Cheryl Hamilton, a recognized storyteller in New England, coordinator for Massmouth, a local nonprofit promoting storytelling and curator of the national television show "Stories from the Stage," shared a personal story about her introduction to working with refugees in her home town of Lewistown, Maine. Listen and see her story >>

Sponsors of this year's poster contest are Watertown Savings Bank and Microsoft.

 New judges

The following are new judges for the festival:

Erica Licea-Kane: A working artist since the early 1980s and a college studio art instructor for more than 30 years, she received her BFA at the Parsons School of Design and her MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art. Licea-Kane has exhibited her work extensively throughout the United States and abroad and she is a member of the Kingston Gallery in Boston’s South End.

Phil Pritchard: Born in England, he graduated from Mountview Theatre School in London. He appeared in the title role in the film "A Kitten for Hitler" (2007) directed by the legendary British Film director Ken Russell and in "The Scouting Book for Boys: (2009) directed by Tom Harper (Woman in Black: Angel of Death) starring Thomas Turgoose & Holiday Grainger.

Kate Bernhard: A marketing and communications professional with deep experience in content creation and management, marketing innovation, brand strategy, broadcast and Internet media, marketing campaigns, client and stakeholder management, event planning, team management and development, and translating industry best practices to build brands and drive business success.

Nuno de Sá Pessoa Costa Sequeira: A native of Portugal, he began his studies at Universidade Moderna Lisboa, in cinema and television. He graduated from The European Film College in Denmark and returned to Portugal, where he directed his first independent work. Two feature length documentaries followed. His latest took him to California, where he edited three feature-length documentaries directed by Kenneth Payton.

Bernice Schneider: An award-winning documentary film editor, she received her M.S. in visual studies at MIT's Media Lab under the direction of Richard Leacock. She has edited numerous films for PBS’s "American Experience," "Frontline," "Nova," "American Masters" and "Independent Lens." Bernice also teaches editing at Emerson College.

Yahia Zakaria: He is a film/TV producer and project Manager with a bachelor’s degree in cinema directing from the Art academy in Egypt. He has more than 10 years’ experience as a filmmaker and supervised production and postproduction for feature films, documentaries, TV commercials and video clips. 

This news announcement was published Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, and updated Oct. 8.