Karot: Festival in Yerevan brings together world renowned Armenian artists

Karot: Festival in Yerevan brings together world renowned Armenian artists


Karot Armenian cultural festival.

An Armenian cultural festival featuring Armenian and foreign artists has come to an end. Karot (Nostalgia), which is usually held in Russia, this year was staged in Armenia and Karabakh (September 2-7) and one of its special guests was acclaimed French actor Gerard Depardieu.

Karot is part of the events organized by the Armenian Culture Development Fund. During this festival awards are given to Armenian and foreign cultural, art and public figures.

Famous French actor Gerard Depardieu (right) and Armenia’s Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan.
World famous Armenian duduk master Jivan Gasparian (left) performed at the festival.
Armenian Jazzman Levon Malkhasyan receiving his own “Flight of Fancy”.
Statues called “Flight of Fancy” are awarded to people well known in the fields of culture, arts, sport, politics. Among laureates were French-Armenian crooner Charles Aznavour, Russian conductor Vladimir Spivakov, renowned Russian-Armenian actor Armen Jigarkhanyan.

This year prizes have been awarded to composers Edward Mirzoyan, Alexander Harutyunyan, academicians Sergey Hambartsumyan, Sen Arevshatyan, benefactor Levon Hayrapetyan, reciter Vladimir Abajyan, jazzman Levon Malkhasyan, sculptor David Yerevantsi, Armenian legendary football player Harutyun Keheyan, and actor Depardieu.

The Karot Award posthumously was given to cinema and theater actor Mher Mkrtchyan, painter Minas Avetisyan, pantomime and circus master Leonid Yengibaryan. Vanush Khanamiryan was honored with a special award for his long-standing contribution to Armenian dancing art.

The festival became a particular point of attraction due to the arrival of Depardieu, who is widely known and popular in Armenia due to the characters he played in movies. Despite a foot injury, the French actor came to Armenia for the festival, walking with a cane.

In Yerevan, Depardieu visited Tsitsernakaberd, a hilltop memorial to the victims of the 1915 Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. He laid flowers at the monument.

Depardieu also met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan. During the meetings the 61-year-old actor noted that in Armenia he felt like he was an Armenian, as during years he managed to meet many Armenians living in France, who managed to live on and rebuild their lives after the 1915 genocide due to their culture and surviving ability.

“I think the Turks have slowly started the process of admitting the Armenian Genocide. I don’t want to talk politics here, but I know there are countries that have raised this question to Turkey,” Depardieu said at a press conference in Yerevan on Saturday.

Since the festival was dedicated to the 19th anniversary of the declaration of independence by Karabakh, it elicited a negative reaction from Azerbaijan, which still considers Karabakh to be its territory despite losing control over its former autonomous region in the early 1990s. It had said the guests of the festival would be “blacklisted”.

Azerbaijan, which views visits to Karabakh without Baku’s permission as a violation of the “borders and visa regime”, blacklists presumed “offenders” not to allow them entry to Azerbaijan proper later on.

(Well-known Russian showman Vladis Pelsh, who moderated celebrations in Stepanakert on September 2, reportedly has been one of the latest entries to Azerbaijan’s “blacklist”.)

“This is an ugly thing of them to do,” said festival director Metso Igityan, referring to Azerbaijan’s behavior. “Besides, they give the names of such people who have not gone to Karabakh.”

Depardieu was not among those who visited Stepanakert.

At the closing ceremony Depardieu stated that he wanted the festival to be held also in France, where there is a large Armenian community. Igityan finds it hard to say when it will be, but considers Depardieu’s proposal realistic.

“It will become known in a month where next year’s Karot festival will be held, it is not excluded that it will be held in Siberia, but it is also possible that two kinds of Karot will be held – one in the Diaspora and the other in the Homeland,” says Igityan.