This is easily the question I have been asked most often about HERE. There are many answers. The most honest is that Armenia is where the story led me. And once it had, I felt that there could be no more appropriate place to set this film.
Armenia was first suggested to me by a fellow filmmaker, Gariné Torossian. She didn’t make a big pitch, but she did subtly suggest that the country might be an intriguing place for me to explore for what was, at that time, a very vague idea about a mapmaker whose measurements weren’t adding up. In doing so, she quietly planted a seed. She watered that seed with a few articles about Armenian history and filmmakers like Paradjanov and Pelechian she sent along later.
For some time, I didn’t take the idea of shooting in Armenia too seriously. I’d been thinking about other locales – North Africa, Kazakhstan – parts of the world in which the lead character’s satellite-mapping work was prevalent and which were still “unmapped” in the cinematic sense. However, slowly but surely, I’d find my eye caught by an article on Armenia in the paper or Armenian landscape images I’d come across on the internet. I became fascinated with the country’s film history and creative culture, while at the same time finding it impossible to believe that something like Nagorno-Karabagh, a literally undefined territory (diplomatically, at least), still existed.
As I explored further, Armenia – its history, landscape, location, people and culture – became another collaborator, a third co-writer. When I visited for the first time in 2004, it was instantly clear that Armenia was the most precise lens through which to focus in on HERE’s story and themes. Within the first few hours of that very first trip, there was no place else to go.