WATERTOWN, Mass (A.W.)—On Aug. 1, the documentary film “Orphans of the Genocide” will be screened in Watertown at St. Stephen’s Church. Four-time regional Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bared Maronian will present the film to the public. The event, organized by the ARF Boston “Sardarabad” Gomideh, begins at 7 p.m. at the St. Stephen’s Church Hall, 1 Artsakh St.
In an interview with Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian, Maronian said, “’Orphans of the Genocide’ tells the story of hundreds of thousands of Armenian Genocide orphans. It is a posthumous tribute to the memory of those Armenian children victimized by the horrors of a systematic, concerted process of annihilation, and a celebration of their survival against all odds.”
Talking about the sources and resources he tapped into, Maronian said, “The stories of these genocide orphans are told by the orphans themselves, backed by expert opinion from scholars like Deborah Dwork and Keith Watenpaugh.”
Maronian has made use of archival photos and documents from the Rockefeller Archive Center, Das Bundesarchiv (German National Archives), Statens Arkiver (Danish National Archives), the Library of Congress, U.S. National Archives, the Armenian Genocide Musem-Institute, AGBU Archives, Noubarian Library, Houshamadyan Archives, ARS Archives, and other private archival collections.
In an exclusive on-camera interview, 105-year-old Almas Boghossian of Whitensville, Mass., tells how she became a genocide orphan, walked from Husseinig to Der Zor on foot, and how she was adopted by an Arab family, then admitted to an Armenian orphanage in Aleppo, and eventually claimed by a relative in the U.S. Almas’s grandson, Bruce Boghossian, the current president of the American University of Armenia, continues Almas’s story from where she left off.
In turn, the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a pioneer American, tells us the story of his genocide orphan mother, whose foot was deformed while walking barefoot on the hot dessert sand on her way to Der Zor. The documentary also depicts how Kevorkian’s artwork was directly impacted by the genocide.
“Besides personal accounts, the documentary also examines one of the largest orphan relief efforts of mankind that was spearheaded by the American Near East Relief Society (NER). Robert Wirt, a U.S. Special Forces Green Beret, based on his great grandfather Loyal Lincoln Wirt’s memoirs, tells us how Loyal witnessed NER’s herculean task of establishing 212 orphanages for 200,000 orphans scattered from Constantinople to Aleppo,” explains Maronian.
A special segment is dedicated to Alexandrapole, currently Gyumri, Armenia, where an orphanage once stood that housed 22,000 genocide orphans. Another special segment of the documentary deals with the Antoura Orphanage in Lebanon, where 1,000 Armenian orphans were stripped of their identity and were Turkified. Independent researcher Missak Kelechian and world-renowned journalist Robert Fisk delve into the details of this operation masterminded by Jemal Pasha.
In 2010, the short version of “Orphans of the Genocide” was nominated for a Regional Emmy Award, won a Telly Award, and was screened at the NYC Filmmaker’s Festival. The long version is at its final post production stage and the producers are in negotiations with a number of TV stations for possible broadcast dates as early as October 2012.
The documentary is written by Maronian and Jackie Abramian, and directed by Maronian. It is a production of Armenoid Productions Inc.
Maronian notes, “Our extensive research of the topic that extended over two years leads us to believe that we could not fit everything we found in an hour and a half documentary, so we decided to publish a 120-page companion book called ‘Orphans of the Genocide,’ featuring 175 uncirculated or rarely seen photos depicting the daily lives of Armenian Genocide orphans.”