From Silent Reverie to Cinematic Mastery: Mariam’s Quest for Transformative Education

From Silent Reverie to Cinematic Mastery: Mariam’s Quest for Transformative Education

Imagine a young girl, wide-eyed, captivated by the images on the screen and the silence that spoke volumes. That was our alum Mariam Harutyunyan on a regular TUMO movie night — unexpectedly, yet surely falling for the art of silent film.

It’s been 10 years since those first TUMO movie nights, but Mariam’s love for silent cinema is as profound as ever. Accompanied by her unwavering determination and with a few festival nominations under her belt, she is ready to weave narratives that transcend language and speak to the heart.

That first encounter with the silent allure of Chaplin’s Modern Times wasn’t the only way TUMO shaped Mariam’s artistic journey. Having witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of a quality education, Mariam deeply understands its importance and is fueled to pursue even more education.

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“At schools and at home we rarely get to leave our personal bubbles and at TUMO many others and I got to experience perspectives and cultures in an environment where it was safe to think out of the box,” says Mariam. Thanks to the encouragement and inspiration she drew from her workshop leaders and fellow students, Mariam enthusiastically explored filmmaking and developed a sense of belonging.

“Wouldn’t you rather be an actress?” would have to be Mariam’s least favorite question. Despite the role of an actress seeming more “appropriate” for a girl, little Mariam was always confident in where she wanted to stand in relation to the camera. Throughout her studies, she was told that one can’t be a director until they’re at least 40, another stereotype she chose not to believe in.

“TUMO was a place where none of that mattered and I would spend day and night there driven by an overpowering desire to learn and create. The only time that I would remember that I have to go home was when my parents called and told me they miss me,” laughs Mariam.

One of the learning lab leaders that Mariam remembers with great fondness is Garo Berberian, award winning film director and, at the time, a producer and director at BBC London. “We’re still in touch just like with some of the friends I’ve made along the way at TUMO. We would never think that years later we would be pursuing what simply brought us joy, ” Mariam says.

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After graduating high school, Mariam immersed herself in the world of theater at Armenian State Pedagogical University, cultivating her talents and nurturing her artistic visions. With each performance, she gained a deeper understanding of the power of storytelling, recognizing the transformative impact of cinema on the human experience. Her directorial debut, ‘Shakespeare Trilogy,’ gained recognition at the 2021 Shakespeare International Theater Festival in Yerevan after earning the top prize in the “Fest Off” program. Following this achievement, she unveiled her second production, King Lear, in 2022.

Charged by her love for cinema and her theatrical background, Mariam embarked on her next venture – creating a movie of her own. Through hours of dedication and hard work, Mariam brought her vision to life on the silver screen. Last year her debut film, ‘Silence Kills,’ was selected to be shown at the 5th Female Filmmakers Festival in Berlin and the 20th edition of KIN International Film Festival.

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With her film’s premiere, Mariam’s passion for cinema blossomed even further. She found herself drawn to the New York Film Academy (NYFA), a premier visual and performing arts college, and, as a testament to the enduring power of passion and creativity, she was accepted . There, she envisions honing her skills and mastering the craft of storytelling through the lens of a camera.

Yet, her dreams were met with a formidable challenge – the cost of tuition. Undeterred, Mariam embarked on a quest to secure funding, determined to pave her path to the academy’s doors and immerse herself in an environment where she can receive the technical education that she needs to complete her studies. “Theatre was never the end goal, but a solid foundation. With its live performances and dynamic interaction between actors and audience, it gave me a foundation for what the essence of storytelling should embody in a film,” says Mariam.

Despite being intimidating to some, the immersive and rigorous program at NYFA has Mariam on the edge of her seat. “Why the New York Film Academy? Experimenting with diverse roles across movie production and gaining a holistic grasp of how each component contributes to the finished work is so important for translating creative visions into compelling cinematic experiences.”

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Her biggest goal perhaps is to use her art to inspire change and pave the way for a new generation of storytellers. “When I was at a summer camp at 14 I wrote a letter to myself about wanting to open a film school. I even picked the spot!” Mariam laughs, pointing at a gentle hill visible from her home’s balcony.

Considering Mariam’s determination and talent, we are sure that her achievements will go way beyond a little hill. From a young girl enamored with silent films to a visionary filmmaker, she is surely on her way to becoming one of this generation’s leading filmmakers.

You can support Mariam in pursuing her dream education here.

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