As a Beginning -- Just behind the slick surface textures of the new Yerevan, beyond its refashioned vistas, mondo boutiques, and cooler than though cafes and restaurants, there is the beating heart of a dreamscape. This is the city's mythic backdrop, an ongoing essay contest where memory and prospect meet or don't. Sevada was at home here. He felt he was in his element as he experienced deja vus at every other corner and street turn.
The juxtaposition was inescapable. There was, in the foreground, the stage of the here and now: an Armenian socius struggling for stability, an East-meets-West brand of politics and governance, the razzle-dazzle of an entrepreneurial spirit that was busy expanding the gulf between the haves and have-nots, plus the potential of eye-popping creativity across the board.
Then there was the stage of larger, less perceptible movements. The stage of history, of abiding values and traditions. Armenia's history has been disproportionately marked with loss, yet its people have always been somehow adept at turning a new leaf the day after. Sevada sought to do the whole monty on film, loosely basing his story on the goings-on of a pantomime stage. He wished neither to present a cautionary tale nor weave the bildungsroman of a nation in transition. His interest instead lay in vignettes that said little but intimated liberally.
'As a Beginning' opens with auditions for a pantomime performance. Against a stark-white background, the beautiful youths auditioning for the piece come up with unscripted answers to the probing questions shot by the casting director. The youths are real-life students of Yerevan's Pantomime Theater.
Misha, their financially-strapped director (played by the great comic Sergey Danielian in the lead role), is grappling with midlife crisis on the one hand, and the tricky business of maintaining dignity and integrity on the other.