Festival Guests

JIVAN AVETISYAN

Jivan Avetisyan was born in Gyumri, raised in Artsakh and is currently living in Yerevan, Armenia. In his early life, he witnessed violent conflicts, and more recently spent 38 days in October in Artsakh, documenting war crimes perpetrated by Azerbaijan during the 2020 war. He understands the brutal consequences of war but has never abandoned his dream and passion for filmmaking. This lifelong dream of storytelling, of chronicling history and putting Artsakh on the world map has been realised through his art of filmmaking. He has created over 20 documentaries, short films and three feature films; Tevanik, The Last Inhabitant and Gate to Heaven.

 Jivan will be in Melbourne and Sydney for the screening of his film Gate to Heaven.

EMILE GHESSEN

A British conflict documentary journalist and reporter, Emile was recruited to the elite Royal Marine Commandos as a young man. During his service he saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq, worked as a recruit instructor and travelled the world. Now he is a filmmaker and journalist embedding himself into hot zones of irregular conflict and warfare. His filmmaking travels have taken him to Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Armenia to cover conflict on the front lines to understand those who fight in these wars, often telling stories of the devastating human conflict they have. His latest film 45 Days: The Fight for a Nation (2021) covers the war in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh).

At the time of publication, Emile is in Ukraine covering the Russia-Ukraine war. If ongoing conflict prevents him from travelling to Australia, a pre-recorded Q&A will be screened post the film.

ANI HOVANNISIAN

Ani Hovannisian is a talented broadcast journalist and filmmaker. She was an anchor and reporter at TeleNayiri and Horizon Armenian Television in Los Angeles. She has travelled the world directing,
producing and reporting on important global issues. But, it was a journey to her lost ancestral homeland that led her to her latest and most critical work, The Hidden Map.

 Ani will be in Sydney for the screening of her film The Hidden Map.

GEORGE DONIKIAN

Legendary newsreader and TV personality, George is a veteran in front of the camera, with a radio and TV career spanning over 4 decades and across three networks, SBS, Nine Network and Network Ten. George is also the founder of Donikian Media which has included projects such as the filming of a 5-part documentary Journey Through Armenia which featured on SBS, anchor for TheInformer and media consulting and training.   

George will be in Melbourne and Sydney as Master of Ceremonies at the Gala Night. 

MASHA MNJOYAN

Armenia born Australia based singer/songwriter Masha Mnjoyan is the international all-star, winner of The Voice Armenia 2013 and a finalist in the 2020 Voice Australia competition. Her early years saw her compete on the global stage in both Junior Eurovision (2008) and Eurovision (2016) representing Armenia. Since moving to Australia, she is completing her Masters Degree in composition, during which time she competed on The Voice (2020). She is a passionate advocate for her Armenian culture.

Masha will be performing a tribute to Komitas at the Festival Launch – Songs of Solomon – in Sydney.

KRISTIN ASTOUROGHLIAN

Lyric mezzo-soprano, Kristin is a Master of Opera Performance student at MCM. For her, singing is a way to reveal emotions and thoughts of characters through the language of music. Winner of multiple prizes and scholarships, Kristin has performed Monteverdi’s Ottone, Tchaikovsky’s Olga,
Purcell’s Mopsa, and is now preparing Rossini’s Rosina.

Kristin will be performing a tribute to Komitas at the Festival Launch – Songs of Solomon – in
Melbourne.