Aurora’s Sunrise: Armenian Genocide documentary to be screened at Golden Apricot Yerevan Int’l Film Festival
YEREVAN, JUNE 22, ARMENPRESS. Not only the circumstances, but also the great will to fight to live saved Aurora Mardiganian from the 1915 Armenian Genocide, allowed to settle in a foreign country and move forward by overcoming all the challenges.
Aurora’s Sunrise, a historical animated documentary film about the life of Aurora Mardiganian, premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France recently.
The film will be screened at the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival on July 10-17.
Speaking to ARMENPRESS, Director of the film Inna Sahakyan said that the idea of creating the film came while developing a program ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, within the frames of which the creative team had a goal to touch upon ten stories. But when the Zoryan Institute sent Aurora’s interview to the director, who called it special, the project changed a little and the idea of creating the film “Aurora’s Sunrise” arose.
“CEO of Bars Media Vardan Hovhannisyan was familiar with the interviews of a collection of oral history of the Armenian Genocide. Since 1970s the Institute has documented the stories of the Armenian Genocide survivors. They have been provided with a questionnaire, through which the historical facts have been collected. This archive is very important as the Genocide survivors tell their stories sitting in front of the camera. However, in visual terms the materials are in low quality. We thought it would be nice and interesting if the interviews are retold through animation”, Inna Sahakyan said.
Aurora was given the same questionnaire which was provided to other survivors, but while answering to the questions she has constantly talked about the Hollywood film in which she starred. As a result of her answers, the questions have changed, and the talk went on a different course. It was revealed that after surviving the Genocide Aurora has starred in the movie “Auction of Souls” in the United States.
“It’s surprising to see how a girl, who has survived the Armenian Genocide, has starred in a film telling about her life. I got acquainted with other interviews as well, the American media reports and the articles about the film. We understood that we are going to make a full-length film, and it cannot become one of the ten small stories”, Inna Sahakyan said.
“Aurora’s Sunrise” is based on the interviews of the Zoryan Institute and the Armenian Film Foundation. Sahakyan has also used the book “Ravished Armenia”, professional literature, American press materials, etc.
According to Inna Sahakyan, the telling story is the most important element in the animation film. The “Auction of Souls” movie’s full version has not been maintained. Only an 18-minute part from the movie is available in the National Archive of Armenia. It has been restored and has been used in the visual section of the movie.
“I am very happy to have finished the film. Aurora has often survived because of her fate, but there have been situations when she continued moving forward as a result of her decisions. It was interesting to follow her story. I think the film transfers these emotions to the audience”, Inna Sahakyan said.
She is sure that people will watch the film with interest. Their target isalso the youth, and not only the Armenian youth.
“This is an important film for the Armenian audience, however both in terms of visual and script composition we have tried to do the utmost for the international community to be interested in it as well. I compare Aurora with Anne Frank. Anne was also a young girl, and the whole world knows about her, however very few people know about Aurora”, Inna Sahakyan said.
At only 14 years old, in 1915, Aurora faced the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. Within a year, witnessing the deaths of everyone in her family, Aurora had lost everything, and was sold into a Turkish harem. But with extraordinary courage and luck, she escaped to America, where her story became a sensation.
The Zoryan Institute’s objective with this film is to bring to life the ZI’s Oral History Testimonies onto the big screen, through animated documentary films, to relay the stories of the Genocide survivors to the younger generations, especially of girls and to empower them, and to represent their communities in the face of great adversity and violence.
In 2015, during the year of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Zoryan Institute, signed a partnership agreement with Bars Media of Armenia to produce the animated documentary based on the testimony of A. Mardiganian. Aurora’s Sunrise was made possible with the academic contribution of the Zoryan Institute Armenia, based on its oral history archives (filmed by the Zoryan Institute on January 29, 1984).
The film is directed by Inna Sahakyan. It is produced by Bars Media, led by Vardan Hovhannisyan, Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion & Artbox Laisvalaikio Klubas, with the financial partnership of Eurimages, the Zoryan Institute Armenia & the National Cinema Center of Armenia, and with the contributions of the Lithuanian Film Center, ZDF/ARTE, Public TV Armenia, and LRT.