“Zareh Tjeknavorian is something else and I don’t know what, but he’s actually from the same planet as me and it’s a moving thing. He’s a f***ing poet and a de-coder of stuff.” - JULIAN COPE
Zareh was born in Fargo, North Dakota into a family of musicians and grew up in Tehran, London, Frankfurt, Paris and New York, where he attended the Professional Children’s School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, majoring in film and television. Over the years he’s pursued his interests in ancient and esoteric cultures, lost histories, and the lives of the forgotten and dispossessed through short and long-form films. His acclaimed documentary Enemy of the People, an oral history of the Stalin purges based on over 200 interviews, was broadcast on PBS and recommended by National Geographic as one of the three most important movies about Armenia, along with Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates and Atom Egoyan’s Ararat.
His impressionistic super 8mm short Elegy in Light won the Rosenkreuz Award for Best Foreign Documentary in 2018 at the First Hermetic International Film Festival in Venice. The following year the film was a finalist at the Intimate Lens Ethnographic Film Festival in Caserta, Italy and an Official Selection at the inaugural edition of Cine de los Muertos in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it screened at the NSU Art Museum as part of the city's tenth annual Day of the Dead celebrations.
In 2019 the occult themed Crowned & Conquering, shot on 16mm, was nominated for Best Experimental Film and won the Theremin Award for Best Sound Design at the Hermetic International Film Festival in Venice, and was an Official Selection at the Psychedelic Film and Music Festival in NYC. Embers of the Sun, a lyrical study of prehistoric megaliths, was an Official Selection at the 30th edition of the prestigious International Festival of ArchaeoFilm in Rovereto, Italy.
Zareh's most recent work includes a folk history of the Armenian genocide and its aftermath in Soviet Armenia, told through the memories of orphans, refugees and their descendants, and a series exploring prehistoric monuments and the persistence of archaic beliefs in the rural South Caucasus. His article The Enigma of Space, about the mysterious Bronze Age monoliths known as vishaps (dragon-stones), will appear this year in the book “Vishap: On the Borderline of Fairytale and Reality”, published by the Institute of Archaeology & Ethnography, Yerevan.
He teaches filmmaking and cinema studies at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan.
  • Director (5 Credits)
    Enemy of the People
    Documentary
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
    Embers of the Sun2019
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
    Vorkuta Tales2017
    Documentary
    Elegy in Light2016
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
  • Producer (5 Credits)
    Enemy of the People
    Documentary
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
    Embers of the Sun2019
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
    Vorkuta Tales2017
    Documentary
    Elegy in Light2016
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
  • Writer (2 Credits)
    Enemy of the People
    Documentary
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
  • Cinematography (1 Credit)
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
  • Camera (1 Credit)
    Elegy in Light2016
    Documentary, Experimental, Other
  • Editor (1 Credit)
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
  • Painting & Collage on Film (1 Credit)
    Crowned & Conquering2019
    Experimental
WINNER: "ITSO Analysis & Understanding" Award & Cash Prize
Crowned & Conquering
Magikal Charm Experimental Video & Film Fest
New York City
2020
Official Selection
Embers of the Sun
XXX International Archaeological Film Festival
Rovereto
2019
FINALIST
Crowned & Conquering
The Psychedelic Film & Music Festival
New York
2019
WINNER: Theremin Award for Best Sound Design; NOMINATED: Vitriol Award for Best Experimental Film
Crowned & Conquering
First Hermetic International Film Festival
Venice
2019
Official Selection
Elegy in Light
Cine de los Muertos
Fort Lauderdale
2019
Finalist
Elegy in Light
Intima Lente / Intimate Lens Festival of Visual Ethnography
Caserta
2019
WINNER: GRAND PRIX
Crowned & Conquering
Kinoskop - Analog Experimental Film Festival
Belgrade
2019
Winner - Best Documentary (Foreign)
Elegy in Light
First Hermetic International Film Festival
Venice
2018
Official Selection
Elegy in Light
Apricot Tree International Documentary Film Festival
Yerevan -Gyumri
2016
Official Selection
Enemy of the People
The Ninth Vermont International Film Festival
Burlington, VT
1998
College
New York University Tisch School of the Arts
Film & Television
High School
Professional Children's School, New York, NY
High School
The Purcell School for Young Musicians, Harrow-on-the-Hill, England
Birth City
Fargo
"The stars are matter. We're matter. It doesn't matter." Don Van Vliet (aka Capt. Beefheart)
“Zareh Tjeknavorian is something else and I don’t know what, but he’s actually from the same planet as me and it’s a moving thing. He’s a f***ing poet and a de-coder of stuff.” - JULIAN COPE