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This Is Northern New South Wales

Armen Ra

Kirra Pendergast-3405The winner of The Byron Bay International Film Festivals Best Film and Best Documentary was “When my sorrow died”. It is an incredible true story about Theremin virtuoso Armen Ra who was born in Iran, of Persian/Armenian decent. From the moment that Armen Ra walked in the door at The Opening Night of the Byron Bay Film Festival I knew I had to photograph him. His elegance, his beauty…..he shone like a star, so on Friday afternoon I took Armen and producer Matt Huffman for an adventure into our beautiful hinterland.

When we arrived at The Crystal Castle, Armen and Matt were overwhelmed with the beauty of the grounds. Armen described The Crystal Castle as “Nirvana”. Before our shoot we had a fabulous lunch, had our Aura photo’s taken, and whilst both Matt and I had a fair bit of Red and Yellow in our Aura photos (action, working, creating) Armen’s was like a rainbow…it seems all of his angels that he talks about often were right there with him.

The Theremin, was invented by Russian physicist, Leon Theremin, in 1920 and was the first electronic instrument ever made. The complex seven Octave instrument is played by not touching it. It is mysterious, unique, rare, in a class of it’s own…just like Armen Ra.

Captivated by Armen’s music, filmmaker Robert Nazar Arjoyan chronicles the story of Armen’s day to day living and life journey with interviews, photos, and archive videos, from Armen’s earliest years as a child in Iran, through his wild time modeling and tearing up the Drag scene in New York, his terrible alcohol abuse and addiction, the loss of his friends to AIDS, and through the death of his father, who succumbed to cancer while Armen was on tour with Nick Cave. The devastating loss veered him into a deep depression; the performer, at the height of his ability, went into reclusion and ceased playing in public.

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The light of his brilliant performances dimmed from the world for nearly two years until film producer Matt Huffman heard Armen’s music and was transfixed.  The sound was magically transformative and incredibly therapeutic. Matt approached Armen about returning to the stage, to re-emerge and share his gift with the cinema audience. The documentary follows Armen’s triumphant return engagement, and ultimately, an expression of beauty and the death of his sorrow. For more information and to watch the trailer –

Photos of Armen Ra – shot on location at The Crystal Castle and Belongil Beach Byron Bay
Clothing – thanks to Nami Byron Bay
Photography – Kirra Pendergast

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