10 must-see documentary films about the Armenian Genocide

The censorship of the Ottoman Empire prohibited photographing the deportations and murders of Armenians, and freedom of journalists in the war zones was also limited. Therefore, most documentaries about the Armenian Genocide are based on the recollections of witnesses

The censorship of the Ottoman Empire prohibited photographing the deportations and murders of Armenians, and freedom of journalists in the war zones was also limited. Therefore, most documentaries about the Armenian Genocide are based on the recollections of witnesses

J. Michael Hagopian played an important role in this issue. J. Michael Hagopian has documented about 400 interviews with survivors and witnesses of the genocide from all over the world, and made 17 documentaries about the Armenian heritage, culture and history.

In 1979, Michael Hakobyan founded the Armenian Film Foundation. It was established in 1979 as a non-profit, educational and cultural organization dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Armenian heritage in multi-media formats. On the website of the foundation http://armenianfilm.org/drupal/films you can get acquainted with its activities and events.

1.Women of 1915 (2016)/ directed by Bared Maronian.

Women of 1915 Armenian Genocide Bared Maronian

The epic journey of women survivors of the 20th Century’s first genocide and the odyssey of the relentless human rights advocates who empowered them.

2. Map of Salvation (2015)/Directed by Aram Shahbazyan

Map of Salvation 2015Directed by Aram Shahbazyan

The film tells about the humanist movement that emerged as a wave of protest and resistance during human tragedies in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, especially the Armenian Genocide.  The heroes of the film are humanists known to history, real people, who have witnessed the massacres of the Armenians TThey are witnesses of the Armenian Genocide and the founders of shelters for Armenian children and women who barely escaped death. TAnd they left their comfortable lives in Europe, came to the Armenian land from different countries, and devoted themselves selflessly and unconditionally to the people residing on that land. The film is told by Finnish historian Svante Lundgren. Passing through the path of mission of the films heroes, he draws a new map: The Map of Salvation. The film is dedicated to the memory of great humanists as a payment of gratitude on behalf of the entire Armenian nation, other nations espousing humanitarian views, and generally all people who cherish noble values.

3. Grandma’s Tattoos(2011)/Directed by Suzanne Khardalian

Reveals the fate of thousands of forgotten women, mostly teenagers and young girls, who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide but were forced into prostitution by their captors.

4. Orphans of the Genocide (2013)/Directed by Aram Shahbazyan

Orphans of the Genocide is an eye-opening visual journey through never-before-seen archival footage and discovered memoirs of orphans who lived through the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Over 150,000 orphans were rescued by American and Scandinavian organizations. One of these orphans was Satenig, the mother of American pathologist and euthanasia proponent Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

5. Voices From the Lake (1999)/Directed by J. Michael Hagopian

25 years in research and production, this feature-length documentary on the Armenian Genocide focuses on the day-to-day tragedy unfolding in Kharpert-Mezreh, one among 4000 towns and villages of the former Ottoman empire in 1915, where monumental forces were unleashed by a policy of annihilation. Includes eyewitness accounts of American and European officials, missionaries, and educators, and by Armenian survivors. These are revealed for the first time, through censored reports, classified documents and hidden diaries. Scratched-out journals are decoded with the help of digital technology.

6. Germany and the Secret Genocide (2003)/Directed by J. Michael Hagopian

Set against the backdrop of World War II, the film chronicles the involvement of Turkey’s ally, Germany, in the first genocide of the 20th Century. German documents attest to Turkish culpability and to German complicity and cover-up. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times has declared the film a “…rigorously researched and a damning indictment…a notable and persuasive film…a warm-up to the Holocaust.”

Germany and the Secret Genocide, the second film of THE WITNESSES trilogy on the Armenian Genocide of 1915, received the coveted First Place Golden Camera Award in the History Category from the 2004 U.S. International Film and Video Festival, the largest festival of its kind specializing in documentary, informational and industrial films. In addition, it was one of only 7 productions selected from 1500 submissions from 27 countries to be nominated for the Festival’s Grand Prix Award.

Germany and the Secret Genocide was featured at the non-competitive One World Human Rights Film Festival in Prague in April 2004. Festival audiences voted the film the 7th most popular of the 156 presented. It has been translated to Czech and German and is being screened throughout Central Europe and the Balkans.

7. The River Ran Red (2008)/Directed by J. Michael Hagopian

The River Ran Red is the epic search for survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 along the Euphrates River. From his archives of 400 testimonies of survivors and eyewitnesses, award-winning filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian weaves a compelling story of terrifying intensity, taking the viewer from the highland waters of the river to the burning deserts of Syria… and to the final resting place of those whose blood ran red in the waters of the Euphrates.

8. The Forgotten Genocide (1975)/Directed by J. Michael Hagopian

Documentary by Armenian born J. Michael Hagopian, who now films and lives in the United States, detailing the Armenian genocide by Turks through eyewitness accounts and interviews with survivors, combined with rare archival film footage.

9. Tillbaka till Ararat (1988)/Directed by Jim Downing, Göran Gunér, Per-Åke Holmquist, Suzanne Khardalian

Back to Ararat is the first film to examine this tragic episode in depth. Traveling from the old ruins to new Armenian communities around the world, the film presents a people united in its dream of returning to its homeland. But no one will listen to their arguments. In fact, Turkish representatives in the film argue the genocide never took place. Back to Ararat is a powerful reminder of a global injustice that has gone unaddressed.

10. The Other Side of Home (2016)/directed by Nare Mkrtchyan

In 2015, a Turkish woman named Maya discovers that her great grandmother was survivor of the Armenian genocide. Maya embodies the conflict as she has two enemies living in her body: one side that suffers and the other side that denies. The documentary follows Maya as she decides to go to Armenia to take part in the 100th commemoration of the genocide and to explore her conflicted identity. This film was shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2016.


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