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‘Book of Eli’ Directors Talk About Being Armenian

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WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—On Fri., Jan. 15, “The Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington, opened in theatres nationwide. The film is directed by twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes, whose previous commercial film was “From Hell,” released in 2001.

The Hughes brothers

In an article published in USA Today earlier this week, director Albert Hughes talked about their experiences, saying, “People were hailing us as the new school of black directors. I hated that. For one, we’re half Armenian, half black. For another, that’s offensive. We wouldn’t pose with other young black directors, because you wouldn’t do that with, say, Italian directors” (see “‘Book of Eli’ directors Allen and Albert Hughes open up” by Scott Bowles, USA Today, Jan. 14, 2010).

The Hughes brothers were born in Detroit, Mich. Their African-American father left them when they were two. Thereafter, together with their “staunch feminist” Armenian mother, Aida, they moved to Pomona, Calif. (see “The Brothers Hughes” by Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today, Oct. 18, 2001).

The Huges brothers often talk about their Armenian background.  In a 2005 interview with Hrag Vartanian, Albert Hughes said, “One thing [our Armenian side] did was to provide an audience. When we began making movies, they were supportive. While the black side was not open to us because we were half white, the Armenian half always welcomed us. I attribute generosity and humbleness to Armenians… Is that a trait of the culture…Armenians, in my opinion, are generous to a fault. I’ve never been greedy and that comes from my Armenian side” (see “Albert Hughes Forges His Own Art” by Hrag Vartanian, www.agbu.org, April 1, 2005).

For more information about “The Book of Eli,” visit http://thebookofeli.warnerbros.com.

—K.M.

9 Comments on ‘Book of Eli’ Directors Talk About Being Armenian

  1. I salute the Hughes brothers.
    Here is a fine example of two talented brothers who, mind you, Never forgot their Armenian side, and have openly declared their love for their Armenian mother.
    On the other side of the coin, Agassi, tried as much as humanly possible to cover or hide his Armenian heritage.

    • Agassi’s father was half Iranian and half Armenian and was an Olympian for Iran. His mother was white. His father’s name was changed from Agassian to agassi to avoid persecution. Andre is American. Americans have multi cultural and many genetics.. we identify as American.. I am not sure Andre has hid anything. I am a huge tennis fan. :)

  2. That’s a sweet story and from such talented brothers too.  They certainly have Armenian eyes and Armenian features.  I am glad that Armenians supported them, they deserved it.  They are kind that they remember their supportiveness.

  3. avatar Lily Taroian // January 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    Thank you for not forgetting your Armenian heritage.  I am proud and honered.  I wish you guys the best of luck.

  4. The Hughes Bros. having a positive experience with their Armenian culture, as individuals and artists, represents a turning point on a variety of different levels for our community.

  5. Kudos to the Hughes Bros. I just don’t know that I would attribute the triats of “generosity and humbleness” (humility) to Armenians. Definitely not the latter. We Armenians are about as prideful as it gets. Not exactly an endearing trait.

  6. First of, I would like to say that I have always been a fan of The Hughes Brothers and their work. I applaud the brothers for giving recognition to their Armenian side; however, I can not say that a received the same vibe for their black heritage! At times it almost seemed, from this article, that they were being offensive towards it! “Armenians in my opinion, are generous to a fault. I’ve never been greedy and that comes from my Armenian side” So what is he implying that his African American side is greedy? I am very disappointment to hear this coming from brothers who make films mostly depicted of black people! The black community has supported the Hughes Brothers, who do they think went to go see their movies…White Americans?? I understand that the brothers may have some issues with being abandoned by their black father; leaving their Armenian mother to raise them, but that shouldn’t leave them to totally disregard or be disrespectful to the African Americans. I am also a melting pot of different ethnicities and I am proud of my heritage! While this article was supportive to the Armenians; it was very disrespectful to African Americans. And what a same and confusion that the Hughes Brother have when they belong to both!

    • {“ While this article was supportive to the Armenians; it was very disrespectful to African Americans.”}

      Ms. Dae:

      How was the article itself allegedly ‘disrespectful’ ?
      It quotes the Hughes brothers themselves: article itself makes not value judgement on the issues at hand.
      If you feel there is some alleged ‘disrespect’, then you need to take it up with the two gentlemen.

      Please read this sentence again:

      {“ In a 2005 interview with Hrag Vartanian, Albert Hughes said, “One thing [our Armenian side] did was to provide an audience. When we began making movies, they were supportive. While the black side was not open to us because we were half white, the Armenian half always welcomed us. “}

      It appears that, according to Albert Hughes, the Black community was not very supportive of the Hughes Brothers, while the Armenian-American community was.
      Black community was not supportive, because they were half-white.
      “the Armenian half always welcomed us”.

      Maybe you need to look within the Black American community for the alleged ‘disrespect’ ?

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