By Danielle Saroyan
Armenian Agenda Associate Editor
In Meg Ryan’s
directorial debut, she directed and starred in a film called Ithaca, based on Armenian American William Saroyan’s novel titled The Human Comedy. This
year at the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) in Northern California,
Meg Ryan will be honored with a Sonoma Salute Award at a tribute event on
Thursday, March 31. The event will begin with a screening of Ithaca at 3:30 PM.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan’s 1943 novel, Ithaca centers around the fictional town
of Ithaca, California during World War II. It is a story about 14-year-old
Homer Macauley, who is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph
messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving
Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister, and his 4-year-old
brother. The Human Comedy is based on
Saroyan’s personal life, growing up in Fresno with his siblings and his mother.
Ryan was inspired
to film this movie when she read The
Human Comedy while going through her divorce with Dennis Quaid, when her
son Jack – who is also cast in the movie – was 8. “I kept thinking, ‘How do you
become a man? I mean is he going to be all right?’ And I remember reading all
kinds of things, and I got to this book, and it’s about so many things…there
was so many great ideas inside of it,” she said in an interview with Deadline.
The film Ithaca was initially released on October
23, 2015, starring Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard, and Jack Quaid. The Human Comedy had previously been
made into a film in 1943 with actor Mickey Rooney. That year, Saroyan won the
Academy Award for Best Story for this film.
Ithaca will be featured at SIFF, which kicks off on March
30 and runs through April 4. In the 19th year of SIFF, nearly 200
filmmakers from around the world are expected to attend. The film festival will
feature more than 90 hand-selected films including independent features,
documentaries, world cinema, and short films. The Festival is dedicated to
promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world and
inspiring film lovers.