On New Year’s Day, Netflix subscribers were offered a rare look at the United States efforts to aid and assist the victims of the Armenian Genocide, when the popular streaming service made available the documentary “They Shall Not Perish, The Story of Near East Relief.”
Written and directed by George Billard and produced by Near East Foundation Board Chairman Emeritus Shant Mardirossian through his Acorne Productions, the film is chronicles the efforts of the Near East Relief to raise funds and save thousands of orphans of the Armenian Genocide.
The documentary is narrated by the actor, Victor Garber, and features such Hollywood luminaries as Kathleen Chalfant, Andrea Martin, Ron Rifkin and Tony Shalhoub. Also featured in the film are Taner Akçam, Peter Balakian, John M. Cooper, Dr. H. Martin Deranian, Susan B. Harper and Keith David Watenpaugh who offer historic perspectives, with Maurice Missak Kelechian and Robert Shenk providing off-camera expertise.
The Near East Relief’s response to reports of “race extermination” against the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire is considered to be the United States’ first collective display of overseas humanitarian aid. In 15 years, NER would raise more than $116 million and mobilize hundreds of volunteers to help the effort.
In 2015, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region kicked off its “America We Thank You” campaign as an homage to the efforts of the Near East Relief, but more important, as a means to educate Armenian and non-Armenians about the role the United States played during the years of the Genocide.
The New York Times on Tuesday placed the film on its recommendation list.