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Exclusive: Clip from Emily Mkrtichian’s ‘There Was, There Was Not’

By IDA Editorial Staff

A woman wearing a patterned red shirt stands in a window, which shows a reflection of a rugged mountainous landscape.

Still from There Was, There Was Not. Courtesy of the filmmakers

Documentary is happy to debut an exclusive clip from Emily Mkrtichian’s documentary There Was, There Was Not, which will world premiere at True/False on Thursday. Like IDFA 2023 winner 1489, this feature concerns the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) region, where a declaration of independence caused violent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which currently claims the breakaway state. There Was, There Was Not follows four women intimately through the events of the recent past. 

On the clip, Mkrtichian writes, “Sosé Balasanyan, one of the four women in the film, is getting her hair braided by a close friend before she leaves to defend her country in the 2020 Artsakh War. Sosé was the only woman to serve on the front lines for the entire conflict, and this is the last time we see her before she experiences the realities of war. Up to this point, we have gotten to know her as an international Judo champion, driven to fight for her country through peaceful means. This scene marks the turning point for Sosé. She leaves to fight for her country in a very different way—to defend her homeland as a soldier— and returns forever changed. The scene is a tender moment shared between women as one prepares to risk their life in war. I love that it is a stark contrast to depictions we usually see of men preparing to be soldiers in armed conflicts.”

There Was, There Was Not was supported by IDA’s Enterprise Fund alongside a host of other grants, and it was presented at IDFA, Hot Docs, and Visions du Réel pitch forums and markets. It was produced by Mkrtichian, Brock Williams, and Mara Adina, filmed by Mkrtichian, and edited by the director alongside Alexandria Bombach.