A richly lensed and layered diary of a filmmaker’s journey(s) to Armenia to reconnect with her roots, “Stone Time Touch” weighs in on the high side of experimental-poetic documaking. Describing an “imaginary homeland” she views through memory, filmmaker Garine Torossian should connect particularly with audiences from the Armenian diaspora. Otherwise, this very personal film — focused on women and swimming in music, religious iconography and a heavy-duty dose of folklore — makes great demands on the viewer, limiting its accessibility beyond festivals.
Torossian finds a soul mate in actress Arsinee Khanjian, who like herself, is a Canadian of Armenian-Lebanese background. Khanjian’s English-language voiceover becomes a narrative anchor helping viewers negotiate the dense cultural, social and political heritage of this small country. Just about everything Armenian finds its way onto the screen: village life, genocide, prostitution, earthquakes, weddings, refugees, the war in Karabakh. The poetic, often romanticized images explore details of this world in extreme close-ups (director Fred Keleman shares camera credit). Sometimes the densely superimposed sound and visuals give sleepy villages the bustle of midtown Manhattan at rush hour. Haunting folk music is interpreted by the New York group of female vocalists Zulal.