— BY Braden King
Will Shepard is an American satellite-mapping engineer contracted to create a new, more accurate survey of the country of Armenia. Within the industry, his solitary work – land-surveying satellite images to check for accuracy and resolve anomalies – is called “ground-truthing.” He’s been doing it on his own, for years, all over the world, but on this trip, his measurements are not adding up.
Will meets Gadarine Najarian at a rural hotel. Tough and intriguing, she’s an expatriate Armenian art photographer on her first trip back in ages, passionately trying to figure out what kind of relationship – if any – she still has with her home country and culture. Fiercely independent, Gadarine is struggling to resolve the life she’s led in Canada and Europe with the Armenian roots that run so deeply, if unconsciously, through her.
There is an almost instant, unconscious bond between these two lone travelers; they impulsively decide to continue together. HERE tells the story of their unique journey and the dramatic personal transformations it leads each of them through.
Will and Gadarine move through Armenia and its remarkable landscape photographing measuring, and experiencing the trip in their own individual ways and, ultimately, through each other’s eyes. Their journey takes them across the length of the country, from the Lori region in the north to the Iranian border in the south, and finally into the diplomatically undefined Nagorno-Karabagh region. It is here that they are forced to confront their intensifying relationship and the difficult questions it raises.
Along the way, Will is continually challenged with erroneous data as his trip descends toward failure, while Gadarine encounters much more personal static: nationality, culture, family, old friends. As she starts to discover a new relationship with her homeland, Will begins to question the solitary life he has chosen.
The two become deeply connected as their sense of themselves – and their worlds – expands. As their trip comes to an end, each must deal with the conclusions to which their journey has led them – and each must decide where to go from HERE.