Film looks at Armenian Genocide

Father-daughter duo Nubar and Abby Alexanian showed scenes from their work-in-progress, “Journey to Armenia: Three Generations from Genocide,” Sunday at Cape Ann Community Cinema, reported.

The producers plan to release the film in 2015 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1915 massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. They hope the film will renew the historical conversation.

“Survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide were met by a century of denial,” says Nubar Alexanian. “Our movie is about the scars of this silence. The year 2015 marks 100 years since the genocide of a million and a half Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire, an event still denied by many countries, including Turkey and the United States,” he adds. “We are making a film about being Armenian—about what it means to the soul of a people to be denied this recognition for generations.”

The filmmakers traveled to Turkey and Armenia to gather material for the project. They also filmed interviews with their own family in what they call a “search for identity, our place in the world, and how we move forward—together— as a people.”

But they insist this is not just a story about Armenia.

“It’s an American story about yearning to connect to the memories, the history and the people who created us, whether we knew them or not,” says Nubar Alexanian. “It echoes the story of families all over the world— those who suffer tragedies, flee, create new lives with old traditions—and of the next generations who search for their place in a heritage that they only half understand.”

The project began when Abby Alexanian surprised her father with a request to go to Armenia. His initial reluctance to embrace his heritage and her enthusiasm for it made it a deeply personal undertaking from the outset, transforming their relationship as well.

“We’ve seen and experienced the long-term effects of the genocide in our own family, and the more we see the more we realize that these effects are everywhere for Armenians and deeper than we imagined,” he says. “With this film we are naming a hidden-in-plain-sight wound, and, in doing so, we are struggling to make personal and cultural meaning of these past 100 years.”

Alexanian, who lives in West Gloucester with his wife Rebecca Koch is a documentary photographer and filmmaker who has traveled to more than 30 countries and worked for numerous print and broadcast outlets and other corporate clients in the U.S. and Europe over the past 35 years. His 2001 book “Gloucester Photographs” is a compilation of black-and-white images shot over more than two decades.

A photojournalist, Alexanian’s books include “The Professor of Swing,” a cinematic portrait of Wynton Marsalis, and “The Clifford Ball” (1994), an MTV documentary on the band PHISH.

Abby Alexanian, his daughter and co-producer, is a graduate of Vassar College and worked on many of her father’s still photography and film sets. She is an advocate and program developer in a domestic violence shelter in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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