Florida-based Bared Maronian is a multiple-Emmy Award winning producer. His latest film, “Orphans of the Genocide” is a documentary dedicated to the more than 150,000 Armenian orphans of the Genocide. The inspiration for this story was a recent article by award winning journalist Robert Fisk of “The Independent” discussing Silicon Valley engineer Maurice Missak Kelechian’s scientific research, which led to the unveiling of an Armenian orphanage in Antoura near Beirut-Lebanon, operated by Ahmad Jemal Pasha and served as a “turkification” center. This orphanage housed 1,000 Armenian orphans.
Asbarez’s Geroges Adourian interviewed Maronian via email:
GEORGES ADOURIAN: Before we start talking about “Orphans of the Genocide,” let us expose the filmmaker behind it. Tell us about your background. Where are you from and how did you end up in the United States and how did you become a filmmaker?
BARED MARONIAN: I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and like thousands of Armenians I moved to United States due to the civil war that erupted in mid seventies. My interest in filmmaking stems from my love of photography during my high school and college years in Lebanon. Once I moved to Florida, I attended Broadcast Career Institute of Palm Beach and entered the broadcast industry, worked for PBS in Miami post-producing local and national documentaries, concerts and business shows.
G.A.: Before starting to make films you worked as an editor, a post production specialist. Tell us about that.
B.A.: Editing is where every component of a film culminates. It’s where all the pieces of the puzzle congregate. It’s the editor who sees the strength or weakness of a film or a TV show from front row. It’s the editor’s observant eye and technique that catches the subtle details that constitute a successful film. So my experience as an editor has taught me all aspects of filmmaking, from pre-production to script writing, camera work to motion graphic design. Now add to that an Armenian background, the outcome would be the inevitable film on Armenian experiences.
G.A.: You have won 4 Emmy Awards, when and for which works were they won?
B.A.: Film or TV production is team work and I’ve been lucky enough to work with talented, dedicated professionals and yes the results were four Emmy’s. The first one was in 2002 for editing a short segment about a photojournalist. Another one was for a weekly nature show called “Wild Florida.” The other two were for national documentaries and one of my works, a live concert by Willy Chirino was nominated for a Latin Grammy I believe in 2007. Also a national special for Nightly Business Report of PBS that I have edited has won a Platinum Remi award at Worldfest Houston in 2009.
G.A.: So far you have made 3 short documentaries as director: “The Wall of the Genocide,” “Women of 1915” and “Komitas Hairig” (Father Komitas), which were received with enthusiasm by festivals and the critics, and also the first one was broadcast on Horizon Armenian TV on April 24, 2009. Tell us about your journey as a film maker, who has chosen very sensitive, and yet immensely important subjects for his documentaries.
B.A.: Being of Armenian decent has a lot to do with the subject matter of my films. I’m also surrounded by friends such as Bedo Der-Bedrossian and Paul Andonian who besides being great friends are also diligent producers. Our goal at the Armenoid Team is to tell stories in a different way. We believe that the Armenian Genocide is a universal subject. It’s not just an Armenian issue. In fact, it is more of a Turkish issue than an Armenian issue and the fact is that in the last decade Turkish avant-garde scholars and artists have shown serious concerns about the “dark past of the Ottoman Empire” as President Obama once mentioned. Our “Wall of the Genocide” in ten minutes draws the Armenian historical timeline from the day Noah’s ark rested on Mount Ararat to the day Hrant Dink was brutally killed in Turkey. “Women of 1915” focuses on the plight of Armenian women during the Genocide years and puts non-Armenian women such as Karen Yeppe on a pedestal for helping their Armenian sisters… after all genocide is a universal concern. Finally “Komitas Hayrig” deals with the impact of the Genocide on Armenian clergy.
G.A.: “Orphans of the Genocide”: your last short film which is projected to be expanded to a one hour documentary; tell us about this important work.
B.A.: My co-producer Paul Andonian forwarded me the Robert Fisk’s article about the Antoura Orphanage. I was so taken by the article. Immediately I called my other co-producer Bedo Der-Bedrossian and the three of us agreed that we should do something about it but we didn’t know what. A few days later at an ANC function 86 year old American born Vanetsi Edward Aprahamian got up and asked the speaker .”..there were thousands of orphans during the Genocide…why don’t we ask the Turks what happened to their parents, why were they orphaned ?” As soon as I heard that I thought that could be the focus of the documentary and the rest was history. We interviewed Mr. Aprahamian, We contacted Mr. Missak Kelechian, who scientifically proved that the Antoura Orphanage was used by Ahmad Jemal Pasha as a Turkification center, Contacted Mr. Robert Fisk who explained in depth the secrets behind the Antoura Orphanage and we interviewed two sons of orphans. Then, we contacted AGBU and ARS for archival images and created the 20 minute short version of “Orphans of the Genocide.”
G.A.: What are your plans for the future?
B.A.: Our immediate plan is to expand “Orphans of the Genocide” to a one hour documentary. We have the material, we have prospective funders but given the economic situation things are progressing a bit slow. Regardless, we are determined to complete this work and make it available to the public within nine months. It’s worth mentioning that as a tangent to this project we are in the process of developing a website dedicated to Armenian Genocide Orphans. The website is called armenianorphans.com and it’s still under construction. As far as our future plans, we are exploring the possibilities of a documentary about “odars” (non- Armenians) who saved Armenian lives by endangering their own during and after the Genocide… some of those individuals were Turks.