SEATTLE–On Saturday–December 7–the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region (ANCA-WR) hosted a private screening of "Ararat," Atom Egoyan’s highly acclaimed new film about the Armenian Genocide. Public officials–members of Congress and their staff were all invited to attend this special screening. The private screening at the Landmark Metro Cinemas in Seattle Washington succeeded in educating public officials about the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and effectively promoting the film.
ANCA-WR Community Outreach Coordinator Areen Ibran’ssian and ANC activist Rostom Sarkissian–passed out informative flyers about "Ararat," the Armenian Genocide and the ANCA-WR. Community donations helped raise funds for the event. Through individual donations–over $2,000 was collected from the Southern California Armenian community to purchase tickets for an entire showing of the film. The remaining tickets were distributed to interested members of the public who had not heard of the movie or the Armenian Genocide.
Over seventy people attended the private screening including Congressman Jim McDermott–representing the Seattle district. Also in attendance were former Washington State Senator Fred May–representative of the Canadian Consulate in Seattle Rudy Brueggeman–director of the Academy of Religious Broadcasting Graley Taylor–and co-executive director of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center–Miriam Greenbaum. Rest of the audience was composed of staff of various local officials–leaders of the Seattle Armenian Community and non-Armenia’s interested in viewing the first major motion picture about the Armenian Genocide.
Those in attendance commented on the profound impact the film’s portrayal of the Armenian Genocide had on them.
"As a daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors and in my role as a Holocaust educator–I can begin to understand the complex aspects portrayed in the film–of a second and third generation’s memories of family–place–and of the genocide," said Mariam Greenbaum. " ‘Ararat’ itself is a beginning to bring history and today’s political reality to the surface–but not the end. There is still much more work ahead to tell young people the story about the Armenian Genocide."
Further stressing the moral significance of the genocide–Greenbaum noted–"learning and knowing about the human history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ as in the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust is more than a lesson in memory; it is about understanding the effects of hate and indifference–and the importance of embracing tolerance–moral courage–and social responsibility."
"It was a very powerful movie; it’s a subject matter I have never seen before," commented Congressman McDermott after the screening. "The movie gives you a snapshot of what happened… I think the ANCA-WR should do screenings like this more often because there is a real need to educate people about this issue. I am very pleased that the ANCA-WR invited me," he added.
Commenting on why the US Government should officially recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915 the Congressman’stated–"It’s hard for me to believe that it has never happened. It should have happened a long time ago and it should happen now."
Congressman McDermott was one of the cosigners of a letter to President George W. Bush in April of 2002–calling on the President to honor his campaign pledge of referring to what happened to the Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.
"Private screenings like this one are essential in educating not only elected officials but also the general public about the atrocities of 1915," remarked Sarkissian. "The importance of mobilizing the community and rallying around this movie is key to conveying our message of justice denied to the average citizen."
Earlier this year–the ANCA co-hosted a screening of "Ararat" at the Library of Congress where members of House and Senate watched the historic film and heard commen’s from the director. In California–the ANCA-Western Region hosted a screening in Hollywood for public officials and staff–attracting over 120 viewers. The successes of these two events combined with the nationwide "Take A Friend To Ararat" campaign have led to other ANCA screenings of the movie "Ararat."
In Washington–DC–the ANCA is scheduling another screening of the movie for supporters of last year’s Genocide Resolution–Senate Resolution 307–and on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Senate ratification of the UN Convention on the Prevention of Genocides which specifically mentions the Armenian Genocide.
"As Armenian-Americans we all need to do whatever we can to ensure as many people as possible see this move and learn about Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. This is a golden opportunity for the Armenian-American community and we have to utilize this film to its maximum extent," observed Ibran’ssian.