Armenian film project seeks backing on Kickstarter

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Stephanie Garoyan Ayanian and Storyshop Films are producing the documentary film “A New Armenia” to document Armenian American lives today, Asbarez reports.

“Many excellent films have been made about the Armenian Genocide, but there are no films that capture the stories of the generations of Armenians who have grown up in the United States,” the filmmakers say in a statement released about the project.

Storyshop Films, with experienced filmmakers Stephanie Ayanian, Tom Keiter, and Joseph Myers, are asking the community to back their project on Kickstarter with monetary contributions to help make the film a reality. Their goal is to raise $45,000 dollars by Oct. 21 (of which about 28,000 has been raised at the time of this writing).

Kickstarter is an online “crowdfunding” website, where individuals can contribute donations or investments to a project. If the project’s funding goal (in this case $45,000) is reached, the project receives the money, but if the goal is missed, the money contributed is returned to the donors.

“To make the film, the creators will immerse themselves in the daily lives of Armenian Americans young and old,” the project’s description explains.

“Spending significant time with both families and individuals, we will watch artists, musicians, and language teachers at their craft. We’ll peek into kitchens while grandparents impart thousand-year-old recipes. We’ll share social and religious traditions, with laughter and solemnity. We’ll huddle with business leaders as they bring honor and financial security to their families and communities.

“We lack a film that documents and celebrates the joys, struggles, culture, and values of these Armenian Americans. We lack a film that asks: as survivors, and as a thriving community, how do we move into the future while remaining connected to our values, our roots?

“It is our mission to perpetuate a thriving Armenian culture. Please help us make this film,” the film’s Kickstarter statement reads.

The project idea for “A New Armenia” originated with Stephanie Ayanian, a third-generation Armenian American living in the Philadelphia area. Her grandparents survived the Genocide as children, grew up in the Armenian ghettos of Marseille, France, and came to reestablish their community in Fresno, California. Her bedtime stories were often of her grandmother’s childhood—the Genocide, the kidnapping of her family members, the reuniting, and the refugee camps.

“First, we must find the families,” the filmmakers say on their Kickstarter page. “The hardest part of any film like this is to spend the time – real, dedicated time – traveling, meeting people and choosing a ‘cast’ of families and characters for the film. This is where your support and your stories come in.”

“Your support will provide funding for preliminary interviews with Armenians around the country, and the plane tickets and hotel rooms we’ll need to make them happen. The stories you send us after you sign up to donate will help us cast a net far and wide, leaving no stone unturned in our search for the best stories.”

Storyshop’s Ayanian, Keiter, and Myers have considerable experience as filmmakers with multiple national directing, producing, and executive producing credits, as well as many awards. Storyshop’s documentary work takes on difficult, complex topics, and attempts to change minds through real-person narrative storytelling. Storyshop has a history of public television projects that focus on issues including human rights, domestic violence, technology, and environment.

Previous public television projects include “Liquid Assets,” “Geospatial Revolution,” “Telling Amy’s Story,” “World on Trial,” “You Can’t Say That” (in development), and “Water Blues, Green Solutions.”

To learn more about the “A New Armenia” film project and to make contributions, visit the project’s Kickstarter page.

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