‘100 Years From Home’ airing June 2 on Rhode Island PBS

PROVIDENCE, RI – Lilit Pilikian’s parents would’ve never met, and a new family and generation would’ve never formed, had her ancestors not been targeted and forced to flee their homeland during the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th century. 

Pilikian came to the grim realization that the systematic killings of her people is a reason why she is alive today, and embarked on a storytelling journey that has led to 100 Years from Home a documentary that makes its Ocean State premiere on Rhode Island PBS on Wednesday, June 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET. 

Rhode Island is home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the country. 

“100 Years from Home” is a vivid portrait of an American woman grappling with questions about cultural  identity, intergenerational trauma, family, survival, and finding her place in her community and the world.  The film was nominated for “Best Documentary” at the 2019 Arpa International Film Festival in  Hollywood, Calif. where it premiered to a sold-out screening. 

The picture follows Pilikian’s journey as she searches for her great-grandparents’ house in modern-day  Turkey in the location of which they were forced to abandon over a century ago during the Armenian  Genocide, which killed over 1.5 million Armenians during and after World War I. 

The story has a new urgency in light of the war that broke out in late 2020 between Azerbaijan, backed by  Turkey, and the Armenians in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. 

The home’s blueprint was passed down from generation-to-generation until finally ending up in the hands  of Pilikian. On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Genocide on April 24, 2015, Pilikian embarked on  an emotional journey to Armenia and Turkey in search of the house with her filmmaker husband Jared  White. 

The harrowing-yet-hopeful documentary was produced by the duo and directed by White, a non Armenian who offers a unique outsider’s perspective on the subject.  

“My culture and identity is something I’ve always struggled with, and it’s probably something most  people don’t even know about,” said Pilikian. “Jared and I were able to tell the ‘100 Years from Home’  story in a way that allows people who aren’t Armenian into this world.” 

The husband and wife tandem had to balance their roles as a couple and filmmakers while they captured  the intimate and painful story. Born in Los Angeles, which is home to one of the largest Armenian  populations in the world, Pilikian never felt fully at home as an Armenian or as an American. Her  struggles are common among American-born children of immigrants. 

Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide also perpetuated that, and its lasting impact on the  descendants of survivors is a sentiment that is shared from various sources throughout the film. “100  Years from Home” illuminates many of the complex issues that have led to the tensions that still exist  today at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This state of affairs caused apprehension for Pilikian to enter  Turkey, where hatred of Armenians is still very common today. 

The film also sheds light on the United States’ role in providing humanitarian relief during the Genocide,  followed by virtual silence on the matter until the U.S. Congress passed resolutions recognizing it at the  end of 2019. On April 24, 2021, President Biden released a historic statement officially declaring it a  genocide. 

“I knew we would be mining some very difficult topics, and I wanted to be able to support Lilit in this  emotional exploration,” said White. 

“Confronting these issues that I often avoided while growing up was difficult for me, but ultimately  cathartic,” said Pilikian. “Making this film really brought the two of us closer together.” 

The documentary features interviews with luminaries such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, historian  and UCLA professor Richard Hovannisian, social critic Vahe Berberian, documentarian Carla  Garapedian, Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Armenian studies  scholar Shushan Karapetian. 

While “100 Years from Home” deals with weighty issues, in the end, the story is a hopeful one. Pilikian  comes away from the experience with a stronger sense of herself and her heritage. “I became more  comfortable in my own skin, in my own story,” said Pilikian. “I realized I’m not alone in this.” 

To learn more, please visit 100YearsFromHome.com

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.
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2 Comments

  1. Will the film be circulated nationally by PBS?(Locally, WHRO/WHRV) If not, how can I get access to it? I am in Williamsburg, Virginia My grandmother was of the lucky ones to flee from Izmit.

    • Hi Donald, thanks for sharing your grandmother’s story of survival. We’ve been working on bringing “100 Years from Home” to more PBS stations around the country. You can follow the film at facebook.com/100YearsFromHome or instagram.com/100YearsFromHome to keep up to date on the latest ways to watch, or order a DVD at 100YearsFromHome.com.

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