Nora Armani has been acting in half a dozen films for over 25 years. In her latest endeavor, “Moving Stories,” Armani plays one of the two lead characters. The film was selected in the short film category of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival (CFF): Short Film Corner (SFC) this past May. Armani wrote, directed, and produced the film—a triple-threat in the filmmaking world.
“My inspiration to write the movie came at the most unexpected moment,” she tells the Weekly. “I was having a phone conversation with the woman we [Armani and her husband] bought our apartment from. During the telephone conversation, she told me that she had been cleaning the place to prepare it for us—even though we were strangers. It got me thinking: We interact with our neighbors, but there seems to be a non-existent relationship between a person and the former owner of his/her home—and yet, there is this commonality that they, at one point, inhabited the same place.”
Hence, the plot follows two women whose lives are linked together through a very brief period of time, when one is leaving her apartment as the other is moving into it. A bond forms, but “only like two ships crossing in the night,” Armani describes. The film depicts the inner turmoil of these women in their own special ways. For one, it is a definitive move after 40 years in New York, whereas for the other, it is one more move along a line of many. While making the film, Armani realized that she had moved 18 times during her adult life since leaving Egypt.
The time frame for completing the film paralleled the length of the film itself. Within weeks of its conception, the 18-minute film was accepted into the CFF. Armani looks forward to the upcoming screenings in New York and Los Angeles.
Lending a helping hand to the motherland
Born in Cairo, and educated at the Noubarian Armenian School and later in London, Armani currently resides in New York City, after living and working for 12 years in Paris. She prides herself as an “artist of the world,” as her peregrinations have taken her from Cairo to London, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, and Yerevan. She cites acting as her “first love,” sparked through plays she would put on with her cousins as a child back in Egypt. Through the Armenian Artistic Club in Cairo, she met her now ex-husband, award-winning actor/director Gerald Papasian, who “cultivated a spark in [her]” and is still one of her biggest collaborators.
“My most significant trip to Armenia was when Gerald and I were invited by the Soviet Armenian government in 1987 for our production of “Sojourn at Ararat.” I observed the beginnings of the movement of independence, and in 1991, I witnessed the government change taking place,” the filmmaker says.
Since 1969, she has made 12 trips to the Caucasus, witnessing the significant socio-political changes in Armenia. As one of her most rewarding recent experiences, she states coaching young actors and directors in Yerevan and Shushi last year at the National Academy of Theatre and Cinema.
Projects: past and present
During the last nine months alone, Armani has completed six projects, most of them as an actress in a lead role, and hopes to undertake a few more before the close of the year.
Her 1991 award-winning play “Sojourn at Ararat” was recently released on audio CD, after extensive tours in major cities around the globe. The play is based on translations of Armenian poems into English (or into French, in French venues). She describes this project as “one of [her] favorites because it has generated such impact on audiences in acquainting them with Armenian literature and through it, the genocide, in an artistically successful and uplifting way,” she says, and hopes for it to continue for generations to come.
The play became the central theme of the docu-dramatic feature film “Last Station” by prolific film director Harutyun Khachatryan, co-starring Armen Dhigarkhanian. Shot in Paris, London, Avignon, Los Angeles, and Yerevan 20 years ago, it relates in real time the stage couple’s tours and arrival in newly independent Armenia in 1991. Currently, Khachatryan is filming the documentary sequel to the film with Nora Armani and Armen Djigarkhanian.
To learn more, visit www.noraarmani.com.