GLENDALE–The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region has chosen Armenian Film Foundation Chairman J. Michael Hagopian as this year’s recipient of the prestigious ANCA-WR Man of the Year award. Dr. Hagopian–who has dedicated much of his professional life to educating the public on the facts of the Armenian Genocide–will be recognized for his courage and commitment–at the ANCA-WR Annual Banquet on Sunday–Sept. 24.
Dr. Hagopian has been at the forefront of the struggle to educate the public on the facts and history of the Armenian Genocide–as the director and producer of a number of films on the subject. As chairman of the Armenian Film Foundation–Dr. Hagopian–has worked tirelessly on documenting Armenian Genocide survivor stories–as well as stories of various Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire and their struggle during the Genocide.
Born in Kharpert in 1913–Dr. Hagopian–is a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. At the height of the Genocide–the Hagopian family fled Kharpert–where the elder Hagopian was a prominent surgeon. After making stops on the way in Aleppo–Beirut–Marseilles–Paris–Cherbourg and Montreal–the family finally made it to the United States settling in Boston for a short period–where the elder Hagopian received his Massachusetts Medical Board certification to practice in his trained profession.
In 1927 the family moved to Fresno to be a part of the burgeoning Armenian-American farming community–and Dr. Hagopian continued his secondary education until he graduated from Los Angeles High School in Southern California–where the family relocated for two years during the Depression.
After stints at Los Angeles Junior College–Fresno State University–Dr. Hagopian–went on to earn his AB degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1937. He continued his education–earning an MA degree at Berkeley–where his thesis concentrated on the government of the Republic of Turkey.
Dr. Hagopian went on to receive his Ph.D. from Harvard University in International Relations. At Harvard–he had the opportunity to create relationships with historic figures both Armenian and non-Armenian. Dr. Hagopian’s doctoral dissertation concentrated on the period of Armenian history from 1894 to 1914–with particular emphasis on the nationalist movement in Armenia. In the process–he me Shahan Natali and Simon Vratsian–among other leaders of the Armenian nation.
"One of my greatest regrets is that I did not film these great nationalists and survivors. Ten years later," explains Dr. Hagopian.
Following his distinguished educational career–Dr. Hagopian served in the US military during World War II–and followed up with several teaching positions at renowned universities including the University of California at Los Angeles–where–as Dr. Hagopian explains–he was inadvertently introduced to filmmaking.
As he explained this period in his life–"?I knew I did not want to stay in the class room all my life. I wanted to travel–adventure and explore."
For the last half century–Dr. Hagopian has remained an active traveler–student of various cultures–and the eyes of so many–who have seen his films on various aspects of human history.
Since 1954–Dr. Hagopian has been engaged in the research–writing and production of educational and documentary films for instructional and informational use in the classroom and on television. He has written–directed and produced over 70 environmental–multi-cultural–educational and documentary films which collectively have won more than 150 national and international awards. The Forgotten Genocide was nominated for two Emmys in production and writing. Several of these films were produced under gran’s from the US Office of Education and the Ethnic Heritage Program–California Endowment for the Humanities–and California State Department of Education. Dr. Hagopian has also spent much of his professional time in recent months on the completion of the "The Witnesses" trilogy–a landmark film production for use in educational settings–including California public schools. The first installment of the trilogy–the independent film Voices from the Lake: The Secret Genocide–has been produced–principally under gran’s from the National Endowment for the Arts–the California Arts Council–the Foundations of the Milken Families–and the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation.
"Dr. Hagopian will receive the ANCA-WR Man of the Year award not only because his work will stand the test of time and will continue to educate generations to come on the history of the Armenian Genocide–but also because Dr. Hagopian has dedicated his life to moving forward the Armenian Cause–with intense fervor and commitment–at the same time paying tribute to the memory of the victims and the struggle for recognition of the survivors," said Alex Sardar–ANCA-WR Executive Director.
The ANCA-WR Annual Banquet will take place on Sunday–September 24–at 6 p.m. at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School’s Avedissian Hall in Encino–California. Tables sponsorships are still available at the $1,000–$2,500–and $5,000 levels. Individual tickets may be purchased starting at $100. For information–to sponsor tables or to purchase tickets–please contact the ANCA-WR offices at 818.500.1918.