Arsinée Khanjian, actor (b at Beirut, Lebanon 6 Sept 1958). Arsinée Khanjian grew up in Beirut and attended Armenian National and Catholic schools until she was 17 years old, when her family immigrated to Canada and settled in Montréal. She studied theatre at Conservatoire Lassalle and received an undergraduate degree in French and Spanish at Concordia University She graduated with a master's degree in political science from the University of Montréal. She also participated in amateur theatrics, and was rehearsing The Mousetrap in Armenian when she met an unknown filmmaker, Atom Egoyan, who was in town auditioning actors for his first feature, Next of Kin (1984). She took the part, and since then she has appeared in every one of Egoyan's films, and he - who is also of Armenian heritage - has publicly said on many occasions that she is his "Armenian muse."
His next 3 films, Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991), and the short En Passant from the Montréal vu par... collection (1991), featured Arsinée Khanjian in performances that were deliberately stylized and emotionally restrained. However, in Calendar (1993), Egoyan relaxed his rigid style, and Khanjian shone as the free-spirited wife of an uptight photographer (played by Egoyan) who eventually leaves her husband for their handsome tour guide.
Arsinée Khanjian took the role of a strip club owner in Egoyan's commercial breakthrough film, the multi-award-winning Exotica (1994), and secured a recurring role in the CBC series "Side Effects" (1994-96). Then came the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter in 1997, where she played a grieving mother who has lost her child in a bus accident. Slowly Khanjian began to appear in films by other directors. In 1996 it was Olivier Assayas's Irma Vep, and in 1998 it was Fin août, début septembre from the same director. Also in 1998 she appeared in Don McKellar's debut feature, Last Night, and in 2 miniseries created by Ken Finkleman: More Tears, where she played his wife, and Foolish Hearts, where she played a distraught immigrant mother confronting the legal system. She won a Gemini Award for the latter role.
In 1999, playing the deceased mother of a serial killer, she showed her comic side in a series of video flashbacks as the flamboyant host of a kitschy 1950s cooking show in Atom Egoyan's Felicia's Journey. In 2002 she won a Genie Award for best actress for her moving performance in Ararat, Egoyan's film about the Armenian genocide. In 2005, she was nominated for another Genie for her role in Sabah, a cross-cultural love story about a middle-aged Muslim woman of Syrian descent who falls for a handsome non-Muslim Canadian. She had small parts in Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies (2005) and Adoration (2009).
Other television appearances by Arsinée Khanjian include Egoyan's short "Sarabande" from the "Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach" collection (1997), Finkleman's "Foreign Objects" (2000), and the series "Made in Canada" and "The Border." Other films include Code inconnu (2000), Fat Girl (2001) and La Masseria delle allodole (2007). She plays a doctor in Nobody Else But You (2011).
Arsinée Khanjian is a successful stage actor as well as in film. For Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto she starred in Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons (1996) and Beast on the Moon (1997). She appeared in Dancing at Lughnasa (1999, 2000), which toured to Switzerland, France, Japan and Germany. She starred in Goethe's Stella (2001) in France and Switzerland and starred in Counterfeit Secrets (2002) and Home Is My Road (2003). She was nominated for a Dora Award for her role as an Iraqi mother in Judith Thompson's Palace of the End (2008).
In 2002 Arsinée Khanjian was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and in 2005 she received the Crystal Award for Creative Excellence by Women in Film and Television.