Director: Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan’s Calendar is a small miracle – films that package such an ingenious but simple idea in such a perfect form are few and far between. Egoyan – a Canadian director of Armenian roigin – has long been obsesssed with the uses and abuses of film and video, and Calendar is pretty much a treatise on his obsession. But it’s also very moving once you’ve slotted it’s jigsaw structure together. Egoyan plays a photographer who visits Armenia with his wife – played by Egoyan’s own wife, Arsinee Khanjian – to photograph a series of churches tfor a calendar. A year later, the calendar’s up on his wall, she’s not around, and his time is taken up with a very peculiar course of serial dating.
Bit by bit, it all comes together – the dated, the still shots of the churches, the video footage of the wife and their Armenian driver – and their story begins to take shape. Calendar works on various levels: as an emotional detective story, as a disquisition on ethnic identity, as a lament on the predicament of seeing the world and not seeing it, as perverse self portraiture.
The travelogue appeal is also artfully, if ironically exploited, with the landscape shots set to Djivan Gasparian’s haunting deduk flute and some incongruous blues. Produced on a shoestring for German TV, this has got more ideas going for it than anything I’ve seen for ages from the North American Independent sector, which these days is bigger on chic than on substance.

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