PORTLAND, Maine—In 2017, Armenian American author, human rights advocate and city councilmember Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte was invited to be featured in the filming of a documentary by French-Canadian filmmaker Francois Jacob titled “Under the Same Sun.”
The film’s world premier will take place at the Canadian Hot Docs Film Festival on May 28 in Ontario, Canada. The 10-day festival will last through June 6 online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later in the year, the film will premiere in the United States and other locations.
Astvatsaturian Turcotte was filmed across the United States, Armenia and Artsakh during the last two and a half years. The documentary explores the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the eyes of various individuals, including Astvatsaturian Turcotte, delving into her childhood as an Armenian refugee from Azerbaijan, her current life as a public citizen, human rights advocate, activist for the people of Artsakh, author and politician.
The filmmaker showcases Astvatsaturian Turcotte’s work of advocating for and supporting the people of Artsakh through various projects. The film crew also filmed her childhood home and school in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In addition to Astvatsaturian Turcotte’s story, the documentary also attempts to look at the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from opposing viewpoints. Astvatsaturian Turcotte does not endorse and does not agree with the views of these individuals. Nor is she endorsing the viewpoint of the film as a whole, while recognizing that Jacob, as an outsider, had to work with various multifaceted components of a complicated conflict, explore the history of the region and demonstrate conflicting sides to give the conflict and the film the respect that it deserves. Astvatsaturian Turcotte does, however, endorse the humanity behind the film, the beauty of Armenia, Armenian history, the Armenian people and the awe-inspiring resilience of the people of independent and free Artsakh.
Astvatsaturian Turcotte is an author, lecturer, lawyer, businesswoman and human rights advocate. She is an Armenian refugee from Baku, Azerbaijan. After fleeing Baku in the fall of 1989 due to the ethnic cleansing of Armenians, Anna and her family spent three years in Armenia as refugees before coming to the United States in 1992.
Anna received Bachelor of Arts degrees in English & Literature and Philosophy & Religion with a minor in Russian Language & Literature from the University of North Dakota. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maine School of Law. As a law student Anna was named an Outstanding Law Student of the Year by Who’s Who American Law Students. In 2004 Anna was one of the first Americans to clerk at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands after working toward and observing the ICC’s creation at the United Nations in New York.
In 2012 Anna published her book entitled, “Nowhere, a Story of Exile,” which she wrote at the age of 14 as her family settled in North Dakota as refugees. The book is based on the childhood diaries she kept as her family was fleeing Baku, Azerbaijan and during the years as refugees in Armenia. In April 2013 Anna successfully spearheaded the recognition efforts of Nagorno-Karabakh independence at the State of Maine House of Representatives. In November 2015 she was elected to the Westbrook Maine City Council by a 64-percent landslide. In 2017 the Russian translation of Anna’s book was published. She was re-elected to the Council in November of 2018 and is currently serving as a Vice President of the Council.
Anna is the recipient of the Mkhitar Gosh Medal, the Republic of Armenia’s highest civilian honor awarded by President Serge Sargsyan for exceptional achievements in the political-social spheres, as well as outstanding efforts in the fields of diplomacy, law and political science. Anna also received a Gratitude Medal from the President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Bako Sahakian; the Vahan Cardashian award for her contributions within the Armenian Diaspora from ANCA-WR; and the Activism Award from ANCA-ER for enhancement of human rights, democracy, truth and justice.
Aside from speaking worldwide on genocide prevention, refugee issues, international law and human rights, Anna has a 16-year career in banking regulatory compliance and risk management, currently as a Vice President, Senior Risk Manager at Androscoggin Bank. Anna lives in Westbrook, Maine with her husband John and their son and daughter.