From Life to Film: Alik Tamar Barsoumian's Quest to Capture Armenian Identity
Meet our 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow and filmmaker Alik Tamar Barsoumian
June 16, 2023 | by Creative Armenia
Alik Tamar Barsoumian, 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow
Growing up surrounded by art, Alik Tamar Barsoumian developed an appreciation for creativity in its diverse forms. When the time came to select a creative instrument, she gravitated toward the camera. The medium of film, with its dynamic and expressive nature, provided the filmmaker with the necessary tools to explore the intricacies of the human experience and of her own identity. One of her notable works, Antuni/Homeless, a short film written and directed by the artist, garnered significant acclaim by winning Best Short Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival and making its mark at prestigious global festivals.
Join us in getting to know the award-winning filmmaker and our 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow, as she offers insights into her creative journey and teased forthcoming projects.
Tell us a little about how you began your journey of becoming a photographer and filmmaker.
Growing up in a family of artists and musicians, most of my nights and weekends were spent in choir rehearsals, dance performances, and piano recitals. I was surrounded by the spirit of creative collaboration which I think ultimately prepared me for life as a filmmaker. Often the youngest in these settings, I spent a lot of time observing those around me and learned to listen with my eyes. I’d record what I observed in my journals, disguised them in typewritten stories, and finally picked up a camera when I was sixteen. I developed a curiosity about the human experience and creating became a way of understanding myself and those around me.
"As an Armenian from the diaspora, I continue to grapple with the same question: How do we define being Armenian?"
Tell us about your creative inspirations – whether those are people, things, or phenomena – and what you have learned from them.
I am most inspired by images, whether photographs, paintings, or film stills. A single image can tell an entire story without words and my work involves distilling an entire story into a sequence of images. While learning to edit my early films, I became fascinated by the alchemical process of splicing images together. The intentional placement of each image can offer new meaning and help shape the viewer’s experience.
One of your award-winning short films, Antouni/Homeless (2017), tells the story of a Syrian-Armenian girl who discovers her father's plans to leave their homeland and struggles to come to terms with the realization. What motivated you to capture this particular story?
I am deeply curious about how we define our sense of home and continually return to this theme in my work. As an Armenian from the diaspora, I continue to grapple with the same question: How do we define being Armenian? With Antouni, I set out to capture the wistful experience of being connected to a place that feels out of reach. I wanted the audience to experience a dream of home through the eyes of a young girl whose future is threatened by the reverberations of displacement.
What do you plan on doing as a Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow and, later, as a creative ambassador for Armenia?
As a Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow, I would like to complete production on my documentary and form a community with other Armenian creatives around our shared experience. As a creative ambassador, I am eager to contribute by teaching, leading workshops, sharing filmmaking resources, and providing mentorship to future Armenian filmmakers.