The Armenian Apostolic Church named Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov as the first recipient of its “Let There be Light” award on July 12 in a ceremony held at Gevorkian Theological Seminary near the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The ceremony was part of the Golden Apricot Film Festival running from July 8-15.

“Film making is an art of light. It is addressed to the souls of people living in dark and dangerous times,” said Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisian in presenting the award. “The voice of one man can have great significance.”

The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, His Holiness Karekin II, presided over the ceremony, which was attended by approximately 150 people. 

Organizers of the event say the church’s award is intended to honor a “significant contribution to global cinematography” and promote spiritual, cultural and humanitarian values.

In accepting the award, Sokurov told the church leaders he never thought this would happen. “I sometimes think of quitting because what I do is not considered significant,” he said. “We humanists are sometimes on the side of failure.”

The cinematographer, known for artistically innovative and thematically complex films, has been honored at film festivals including those in Cannes, Berlin, Moscow and Toronto.  In 2011, his film “Faust” was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The film is the fourth in a series of studies of men in positions of power and their relation to evil. The first three films focus on Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Emperor Hirohito.

Bishop Gevork Saroyan, a member of the selection committee that recommended Sokurov for the award, said the world-renowned film maker was being honored for the ensemble of his work rather than for any individual film.

The Golden Apricot Film Festival concludes with a ceremony to announce the recipients of prizes awarded by the festival's several juries. Members of the Ecumenical Jury, representing Protestant and Catholic film organizations and the Armenian Apostolic Church, will award its prize to the director of the film that best combines artistic merit with insight into human challenges, values and beliefs.