A still from Saakyan's film, The Lighthouse


Program Bio
April and May 2007: New York and the Athens Film Festival, Athens, Ohio
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Maria Saakyan was born in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. When she was 12, her family moved from Armenia to Moscow. In 1996, Saakyan entered the Russian State Institute of Cinematography's Department of Film Directing (workshop of Vladimir Kobrin), and graduated in 2003 with a short film, The Farewell, (Proschaniye). The film received the Grand Prize of the Golden Apricot film festival in Yerevan, Armenia; a Special Mentioning at the Fano International Film Festival in Italy; and a Special Prize from the Kodak Company at the VGIK festival in Moscow.

The Lighthouse, (Mayak), is Saakyan’s first full length film. It is a story of the life of refugees, inspired by the tragic events that took place in the 1990’s in the Caucasus region. The project received a grant from the Hubert Bals Fund of the Netherlands. In May 2005 the film was presented at the Producers Network, part of the Cannes Film Festival.