The Armenian American writer, filmmaker, and illusionist Garin Hovannisian has made a surprise free release of his magic special City of Cards. Early reviews are hailing the 32-minute film as “the best magic special of the year” (LA Weekly) and its creator “a new kind of magician – philosophical, poetic, provocative – an emerging visionary for our time” (The Jerusalem Post).

Equal parts travel show, magic special, and experimental film, City of Cards invites viewers to join a tour of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. But this isn’t an ordinary tour. Hovannisian, who was born in Los Angeles but has lived in Yerevan since childhood, is in pursuit not of architecture and cuisine, but of secrets, symbols, superstitions, and the mysterious idea of chakatagir – the Armenian word for “destiny,” which translates literally into “the writing on the forehead.”

As he uncovers the secrets of the city, Hovannisian creates and performs original illusions inspired by them. In the course of the film, he reads minds, finds fortunes in coffee cups, and hypnotizes live audience members. You can watch City of Cards at

Garin Hovannisian is a writer, filmmaker, and illusionist who lives in Yerevan, Armenia. He is the author of Family of Shadows and has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Atlantic.

Garin’s films include 1915 (2015), which won Armenia’s top film prize; I Am Not Alone (TIFF 2019), an official selection of the European Film Awards, IDA Award nominee, and winner of AFI Fest and DOC NYC; Truth to Power (Tribeca 2020); and Invisible Republic (GAIFF 2022). He produces his films through Avalanche Entertainment, a production company he founded with Alec Mouhibian.

His forthcoming films Nowhere and City of Cards – along with his series Magic Stories – reflect his new work as a magician, hypnotist, and illusion artist. Learn more about his work and subscribe to Magic Stories at

Garin is also the founder of the arts foundation Creative Armenia and the incubator Artbox, through which he discovers, develops, and champions emerging artists.

City of Cards is directed, written, and edited by Garin Hovannisian; produced by Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian; and associate produced by Anush Ter-Khachatryan. The magic special features cinematography by Suren Tadevosyan, ACG, original score by Van Sarkissian, sound design by Lucien Palmer, CAS, production design by Tigran Asaturov, and  visual effects by Vasil Shahbazyan.

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