LOS ANGELES—“Don’t Let Their Voices Be Forgotten” has been the slogan of the Armenian Film Foundation for many years. Thanks to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute in Los Angeles, the 400 voices of Genocide eyewitnesses filmed by AFF co-founder J. Michael Hagopian will finally be heard throughout the world. The first 60 digitized and fully indexed interviews of the 400 are being released by the USC Shoah Foundation this month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The USC Shoah Foundation on March 30 began releasing one clip a day from Hagopian’s filmed testimonies on its website at sfi.usc.edu/clipviewer.
The first five clips contain introductions by Professor Richard Hovannisian, one of the world’s leading scholars on the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian testimonies were filmed by Hagopian and the Armenian Film Foundation between 1972 and 2004 when most of the survivors were in their 70s and 80s. Hagopian, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, made 70 educational documentaries in his lifetime – 17 on Armenian culture and history, including an epic trilogy on the Armenian Genocide called “Witnesses” that is comprised of Voices from the Lake, Germany and the Secret Genocide and The River Ran Red. In April 2010, the AFF and Michael and Antoinette Hagopian licensed a digital copy of the 400 eyewitness testimonies to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History. That same year, in December, Hagopian died at age 97.
Since Hagopian’s passing, Dr. Carla Garapedian has become the AFF’s filmmaker, and this year, with AFF Board Chairman Jerry Papazian, has spearheaded a number of initiatives on the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide:
April 16 – Museo Memoria, Mexico City: debut of Armenian Genocide exhibition at Museo Memoria in Mexico City will feature clips from AFF interviews.
April 20 – California State Capitol Genocide Commemoration – Excerpts from the AFF collection will be shown and Garapedian will speak at the reception afterwards.
April 24 – Yerevan: Dr. Garapedian, Dr. Stephen Smith, director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, Prof. Hovannisian and AFF board member Michael Amerian of the George Ignatius Foundation will travel to Yerevan for the 100th anniversary commemoration. Also, he Pan-Armenian Media Group will be broadcasting the Witnesses Trilogy during the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Armenia.
April 24/25 (TBD) – Detroit: PBS will air the newly re-mastered documentary Voices from the Lake, written and produced by J. Michael Hagopian.
April 24 – Paris: The Witnesses Trilogy will be shown as part of an exhibit at Sobbering Galleries that will also travel to other parts of France and perhaps Istanbul.
April 24 – Nanjing, China: The River Ran Red has been subtitled in Mandarin for possible screening in China to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
May 1 – Wiesbaden, Germany: The second film in J. Michael Hagopian’s Witnesses Trilogy, Germany and the Secret Genocide, will be screened with three other films at the German Film Institute.
May 6, 7 – Beirut, Lebanon: Premiere of the newly re-mastered Witnesses Trilogy, written, directed and produced by J. Michael Hagopian. Garapedian and Hagopian’s wife, Toni, will attend.
May 7, 8, 9 – Washington, D.C.: During the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the AFF’s Genocide Survivor clips will be shown at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday, May 9, at 3 pm.
May 14 – Los Angeles: The River Ran Red will be screened as part of the Hammer Museum’s “I am Armenian” series.
Also, the ABGU Vache and Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena will be the first school to use the AFF testimonies in a short film competition called “I Survived” during the spring term. Students will make a film from a sampling of AFF testimonies, which will also be officially launched this year at the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive. The Karayan Foundation will offer a cash prize to the top three films.