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Zareh Tjeknavorian’s Film Nominated for Best Experimental Film and Best Sound Design at Festival in Venice

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VENICE, Italy ‒ The American University of Armenia (AUA) is happy to share that AUA Lecturer Zareh Tjeknavorian’s film “Crowned & Conquering” has been nominated for Best Experimental Film and Best Sound Design at the First Hermetic International Film Festival (FHIFF) in Venice, Italy. Tjeknavorian teaches Filmmaking and Cinema Studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS).

The FHIFF is a unique event dedicated to underground and visionary films that explore mystical, occult, and esoteric themes. The festival will take place from March 7-10 at the Associazione About in the historical heart of Venice, where an eclectic program of 33 works will be screened.

Shot on 16mm film, “Crowned & Conquering” is inspired by the philosophy of the occultist, ceremonial magician, and writer Aleister Crowley. Through mythical scenes, symbolic imagery, abstract graphics and textures (including collage and painting directly on the film itself), and a monumental psychedelic soundtrack, the work visualizes the alchemical process of chrysopoeia, the transmutation of the spirit from lead into gold: a cinematic allegory of the gnostic path in sight and sound.

This is the second time Tjeknavorian’s work is nominated at the FHIFF. In 2018, his film “Elegy in Lightwon the Rosenkreuz Award for Best Foreign Documentary at the Festival.

Zareh Tjeknavorian was born in Fargo, North Dakota into a family of musicians and grew up in Tehran, London, Frankfurt, Paris, and New York, where he attended the Professional Children’s School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, majoring in Film & Television. Over the years he’s pursued his interests in ancient and esoteric cultures, lost histories, and the lives of the forgotten and dispossessed through short and long-form films. His acclaimed documentary “Enemy of the People,” an oral history of Stalinism based on over 200 interviews, was broadcast on PBS and noted by National Geographic as one of three must-see films about Armenia. His recent work includes a folk history of the Armenian Genocide, and a series of films exploring vishap (dragon) stones, prehistoric landscapes, and the persistence of archaic beliefs in rural Armenia.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic value.