YEREVAN — Sarik Andreasyan’s Earthquake, a dramatized recreation of the devastating Spitak earthquake that hit northern Armenia in December 1988 killing 25,000 people and leaving half a million homeless— has been chosen as Armenia’s submission for best foreign-language film Oscar consideration, according to Armenian National Film Academy.
The $3 million disaster movie was produced by Moscow-based Mars Media, headed by Ruben Dishdishyan, the founder of Russia’s top independent production company Central Partnership in 1995. He stepped down five years ago.
Earthquake tells the story of two young men, Andrei Berezhnov and Robert Melkonyan, whose fates were already intertwined by an earlier tragedy — a car crash caused by Andrei that killed Robert’s parents — the film brings them together in the same rescue squad as they struggle to cope with a disaster that eclipses their own personal stories.
Shot in Armenia and in Moscow on specially built sets — to spare the people of Gyumri (formerly Leninakan) the distress of recreating earthquake damage in a city where memories after nearly 30 years remain raw — the film, long tipped as this year’s Oscar entry from Armenia, beat two other shortlisted films in a secret ballot of the National Film Academy of Armenia.