Robert Davidian: an individual who depicts culture of activism in Armenia

On July 9 Robert Davidian’s “Armenian Activists Now” movie premiere took place in Yerevan. Armenian activists and their friends, who, in this or that way, have their own contribution in creating and developing the civil society in Armenia, attended the movie premiere.

The movie “Armenian Activists Now” was quite inspiring and motivating. After the movie screening an atmosphere of a new wave of civil struggle, development of new impetus was created in the hall. I also didn’t stay apart from that overwhelmed inspiration impressed not only by the film, but also with an impetuous energy, which flooded from everyone who was watching the film. During the movie screening, a thought came to my mind very quickly: to prepare an article about the movie author Robert Davidian, a man who gives a new boost to civic activism and activism culture in Armenia.

Right the next morning I called Mr. Davidian and arranged an interview.

On Saturday I met him in one of oriental restaurants of Yerevan. He ordered an Armenian water and barbeque, after which our interview started.

– Mr. Davidian, what are the pros and cons of being an independent producer: do you prefer working independently rather than working for a company or a client?

– I have been both an independent producer, and I’ve also worked for companies and clients. When I graduated from college, I started working in an advertising agency in New York, being a little person in that big agency. I was conducting research, surveys for TV stations, about who watches television, who doesn’t, which TV channel they prefer, why and so on. That was a kind of interesting job, but I didn’t feel quite satisfied with it.

Then I moved to California and again, I was working in television services. There I was preparing ads for car sales.

Later I was offered to make movies, and I thought why not! I was meeting young actors in LA, shooting them, helping them to create their own portfolios, which for me was an experience and a way to earn some money.

I’ll be honest to say, that I prefer working independently. Its main advantage is that “you are on your own bus”, you plan your day, decide what to do and what not to do. In this case you receive all the income, profit and not just the five percent of it, which allows you to do savings and travel. One of the negative sides of it is that you always look for different projects, that you may have an issue concerning the money and you always have to do savings for further work.

– There is no doubt that you are a consistent producer outside of Armenia. However, what sparked your interest in activism and the various movements taking place today in Armenia?

– I am an Armenian. Both my mother and father are Armenians. And because I am Armenian I decided to come to Armenia. The more people I met in Armenia, the more I loved Armenia. I love my friends. When I was here, they were very desperate and were saying that there’s no hope for a better life in here. But I was always saying that, no, it exists in reality. And I absolutely didn’t want my friends to lose their optimism here, so I thought to do a thing to keep it. That’s how the “Armenian Activists Now” movie idea was born. It was probably the fifth work done in Armenia, but in terms of content it’s one of the most serious and important for the development of Armenia. This film is not only mine, but it’s a combined work of mine and all the activists. This film is made to inspire people and other activists to continue and develop the thing that has already started, to spread the idea of tolerance.

– In your opinion how do various contemporary art forms influence societal change?

– I believe that art can create different feelings in every person. Art helps to change, to open people’s minds, to think broader, not to be limited in narrow circles of thinking. And when you start to think more expansive, you start to think more about life, about loving people, in result of which you start to appreciate the life more.

It’s a little bit harder to reach social changes in Armenia. People are fighting for tolerance in Armenia now, and there’s no need to be afraid of the idea of tolerance, because it brings a lot more opportunities, rather than “closing doors”.

– What do you think, is Armenia a true democracy, or does it still have a long way to go?

– I believe that it is true. And I want to see real democracy in all the countries, which still doesn’t exist in any country. But the important thing is the hope and talking about it.

After finishing the interview with Mr. Davidian together we went to “Democracy Today” NGO, where should have been the second public screening of “Armenian Activists Now” for young activists from different villages of Armenia. Among them there were graduates from “Zatik” orphanage.

Two heroes from the film Arpine Galfayan and Olya Azatyan, as well as representative of “Democracy Today” NGO Armen Arakelyan were also invited to the movie screening, after which they organized a discussion with young and future activists. They presented the movements and civic initiatives, which take place in Armenia now, talked about the role of civic activism in the process of democratization of society and how they are involved in different initiatives.

Nvard Margaryan