is a 2002 film directed, written, and co-produced by Atom Egoyan
. The film is based around an Armenian-Canadian director named Edward Saroyan attempting to make a Biopic
about the life of Armenian abstract artist Arshille Gorky, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, including scenes from the 1915 Siege of Van. This stirs controversy because the historical events are contested by modern Turkey; for example, a Turkish-Canadian actor becomes increasingly uncomfortable with playing the role of an evil Turkish military officer in Saroyan's film.
There are also a number of secondary plots. One involves the relationship between Ani, an art historian and expert on Gorky and adviser on Saroyan's fictional film, and her son Raffi. Another features Raffi and a Canadian customs official, David (played by Christopher Plummer), who interrogates Raffi for smuggling film footage of ruined Armenian churches from Turkey needed for Saroyan's movie.
- Agony of the Feet: A particularly cringe-worthy instance of this trope occurs in the movie-within-a-movie, as Jevdet Bey sentences Arshille Gorky's little brother to have nails driven through his feet. It's only done as a Scream Discretion Shot though.
- Artistic License - Geography/ Eiffel Tower Effect: In-universe example; someone points out to Saroyan while he's filming that you wouldn't actually be able to see Mt. Ararat from the city of Van (while Saroyan's film has Mt. Ararat as a backdrop). Saroyan decided to keep it in anyway for the effect.
- Becoming the Mask: Ali, the Turkish actor who starts to deny the genocide is accused of Becoming the Mask by Raffi.
- Motive Rant: Jevdet Bey gives one to a young Arshille Gorky after he's captured, as to why he thinks the Armenians deserve what he and his soldiers are doing to them.
- Movie Within A Movie: The clips from said movie-within-a-movie are arguably more exciting and done on a higher budget than the rest of the film, which is more of a mundane drama.
- Post Modernism: Dramatic scenes from the movie-within-a-movie are broken by suddenly panning back to see the Director and Film crew, or by having an Art Professor storm onto a set and argue with the lead actor about how he's playing the artist she's spent her career on, with the actor arguing back while still in character — while reminding you from this that even this is two actors playing roles in Real Life.
- Proscenium Reveal: See above.
- The Siege
- Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Turkish actor playing Jevdet Bey, portrayed in the film as a monster, begins having doubts that the genocide occurred.
- Unfortunately, making an actual film like Saroyan is trying to make in Real Life would be difficult due to this trope. Egoyan barely got away with it, mostly because it's an independent film, made in Canada where the genocide has been recognized. When the film was screened in Turkey all references to the word "genocide", as well as several scenes depicting massacres, were edited out.