“Eternal Behest”: New feature film reveals little-known feats at Karabakh battlegrounds

A rare Armenian feature film delving into the times of heroic battles in Karabakh in the early 1990s is set to be premiered in Yerevan later this week.

The authors of the 53-minute-long movie say it is an attempt to present the living memories about the Karabakh war and a message to the present and future generations of Armenians.

“Eternal Behest” is the third film directed by Samvel Tadevosyan as part of the “Justice Fighters” series. It is based on true stories and portrays the lives and feats of the brave men who fought in Karabakh and today are alive.

“With this series of films an attempt is being made to break the tradition that we do not address the legendary personalities of the battles of Artsakh who are alive today and are in the same frame of mind,” says Tadevosyan.

The main events in the film take place at around present times, but the memories of the characters take them to the years of the Karabakh war in 1992-1994.

At the core of the film is Pavlik Manukyan, more known to his friends as Aparantsi Pavlik (or Pavlik from Aparan). Pavlik, who is in his fifties today and plays himself in the film, takes his son to the fortress-town of Shushi on the 18th anniversary of its liberation. It is then that he tells his son Aram about his war path, his arrests and torture in the prison of Shushi, a strategically important town some 10 kilometers south of Karabakh capital Stepanakert that was held by Azeris until May 1992 and was used as a place of arms and a location to shell Armenian civilians in low-lying areas.

“Unfortunately, our homeland has seen a lasting presence of enemies around it, and wars have constantly been imposed on us. The whole experience should be conveyed to all of us and to the future generations that will one day become the guarantors of the security of the borders, the homeland, our science and culture,” says Tadevosyan.

The art director of the film, Artur Mkrtchyan, adds although the film centers on the fate of Pavel Manukyan, it is not only about him, but also about all heroes like him.

“There are quite a few heroes like Pavlik Manukyan. One simply has to remember them, notice them,” says Mkrtchyan.

No actors were involved in the production of “Eternal Behest”, all five characters are played by themselves. They are Pavlik Manukyan with his son Aram, former Sisian battalion commander Ashot Minasyan, Sisian airfield commander Hrach Karapetyan and singer Sahak Sahakyan, who represent themselves.

The main goal of the film, according to its authors, is to become a cultural counterbalance to various serials that they say have taken over television today, as well as to present the living memories of the national victories and the victors themselves.

The production of the film began in the middle of 2009 and lasted for about 18 months. Its director says they did not have a specific funding for it and were mainly helped by “good-hearted people around them”.

Tadevosyan says “Eternal Behest” is a national film and he does not want it to be “worn out” at too many festivals, so it will probably participate only in one such film festival, Pomegranate in Canada.

The premiere of the “Eternal Behest” film is due at Yerevan’s Moscow Movie-House on May 4. Shows in Armenian communities abroad are also planned.