Oksana is taken by surprise.
Oloman Cafe. This is her first time in this Hamtramck café and she is astounded by its presence—”I grew up in this neighborhood. I never expected it to be so . . . hip!” With equal gusto, she is quick to remark on the quality of her cheese and ham croissant, “It is a difficult feat to perfect something so simple.”
My brief coffee date with the Armenian-American artist turns into nearly two hours of lively discussion touching on everything from obscure poetry to suburban high school connections to the struggles of a filmmaker who chooses to stay in the midwest. She speaks of a childhood marred by conflict—fleeing from the Baku pogroms, her family immigrates to the U.S. as refugees. It’s the stuff of movies.
No doubt this is an origin story that has deeply shaped the trajectory of a spirit as introspective and engaging as her films—with a career that has taken her around the world.
Her resume comes with a list of accolades that mock her young age. Her films have screened internationally at film festivals including Clermand-Ferrand (France), Camerimage (Poland) and DokuFest (Kosovo). Her short film, “140 Drams” took top prize as Best International Short Film at Izmir Film Festival (Turkey), an Honorable Mention at the Pomegranate Film Festival (Canada) and was recognized by the ICG Emerging Cinematographer Awards (USA). “140 Drams” was selected by Atom Egoyan for his curated section “Diaspora: Atom Egoyan & Armenia” at Fribourg International Film Festival (Switzerland). Her first feature film, “Abysm,” received Locarno International Film Festival’s (Switzerland) Open Doors Award. In 2016 she became a Kresge Fellow.
She has served as a Creative Director for OneArmenia, a nonprofit based out of NYC focused on supporting art, tech and entrepreneurial initiatives in Armenia. Currently she is documenting the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict in the South Caucasus and working on her first feature film.
She splits her time between Detroit and Armenia. And even found time for us.
CV Henriette: What’s the last album you purchased?
Oksana Mirzoyan: Ye by Kanye West.
CVh: What’s the last album you’ve listened to in its entirety?
OM: Greatest Hits of Led Zeppelin.
CVh: How do you listen to music at home?
OM: Very loud, while dancing.
CVh: Name one song that’s changed you.
OM: Pirozhok by Verka Serduchka.
CVh: Sun sign?
OM: Virgo Sun/Libra Rising.
CVh: Inner avatar?
CVh: What’s the characteristic you like most in people?
OM: Curiosity and Vulnerability
CVh: Dislike the most?
CVh: What’d I forget to ask?
OM: What’s the theme of this playlist?
CVh: What’s the theme of this playlist?
OM: Favorite songs pulled from film soundtracks.