Tuesday, 17 September

The Fate of Hay Film: Public Hearing Raises Many Questions, Few Answers

Armenian Minister of Culture Lilit Makunts was one of the thirty concerned individuals who attended a public meeting on August 4 in Yerevan to discuss the plight of the beleaguered Hay Film production studio.

Founded in 1923, Hay Film was sold in 2005 to  CS Media, a company co-owned at the time by U.S.-Armenian philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian and his business partner in Armenia, Bagrat Sargsian. CS Media paid about $800,000 for the Soviet-era studio and pledged to invest roughly $70 million in it over the next decade.

The money was supposed to be mainly spent on upgrading the studio’s equipment and producing new films. Failing to do so, the Armenian government moved to regain control of the Soviet holdover in 2015.

It seems that Hay Film might again be put up for sale to private investors.

Those who attended the August 4 public discussion, organized by State Property Control Committee President Narek Babayan, wanted to know if the government had plans for Hay Film.

Babayan replied that it would take millions of dollars to get the studio, which occupies 25 hectares, up and running again, and that the government doesn’t have the money. Babayan said that while Hay Film is on the list of state properties to be sold off, this doesn’t mean that a final decision has been made to do so.

Hay Film representatives said the studio today has a staff of fourteen, of which five are security personnel.

While a number of suggestions were made to revitalize the film studio, most were overly grandiose and based on emotion rather than reality.

Babayan said that all proposals, once clarified and translated into practical steps, would be discussed with the Ministry of Culture.

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