Armenian American Stories - A Documentary Film

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The son discovers the unbelievably heartbreaking and heroic stories of his grandparents.


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Dear friends and supporters, 

As minority peoples around the world are making gains overall in acquiring egalitarian power and recognition, other groups continue to face onslaughts against their basic human rights. The right of any people to exist, regardless of majority or minority status in race, religion or philosophy, is a fundamental principle of our international laws and communal norms. 

This film deals with the most egregious disregard for those basic rights, looking at exactly what happened when the world turned a blind eye to the plight of the Christian minority in Anatolia during the 1915–23 ethnic cleansing of Armenians at the hands of Muslim Ottoman Turks. Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were executed or perished on death-marches. This event is held to be the first genocide of modern times, when the Armenians lost their homeland in Anatolia. Yet, it wasn’t until a century later that a U.S. president, Joe Biden, referred to “genocide” of the Armenians.

And now, history repeats as renewed aggression is taking place to further drive out the Christian minority. In the last year, 75% of the easternmost province of Armenians, called Nagorno-Karabakh, was ceded after a flash invasion and occupation by Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces. The Armenians rally to defend, but within 6 weeks the war in Karabakh is decisively won by the Turkic alliance with the use of the most modern smart weaponry. Armenian refugees flee with only what they can carry. Acting fast, Russian peacekeepers are deployed to prevent what certainly would have been another bloodbath. 

The story starts with the Armenian son who inherits a box of tapes left by his mother, containing scores of firsthand narratives recounting the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks. The son and his cousin Jennifer discover among the many tapes the unbelievably heartbreaking and heroic stories of their grandparents and relatives who are no longer living. A surviving uncle, gives a series of interviews over several years, recounting how one part of the family survived in harrowing detail. The story of the uncle and his mother, brother, and sisters has a fascinating and surprising twist, as the family was saved by the daring intervention of a Turkish man, a loyal friend of his father, who hid them, at peril to his own life and family. 

Following leads provided by the uncle and other relatives, about locations of homes and businesses, the son decides to travel to the home of their grandparents in Central Anatolia. In the town where his family had lived for untold generations, the son finds that records of the Christian Armenian inhabitants have entirely vanished without explanation. Discussion of them and their existence remains forbidden by law, under peril of imprisonment. 

America was once the great savior of the Armenians, and charities raised more money for the saving of Armenians than any other humanitarian effort. But in the fall of 2020 America is slow to react. Through the words of diplomats, academics, and refugees themselves, we hear a familiar refrain: “Nobody knows what will happen with the Armenians in Karabakh.”  

We hope this film will have relevance not only to the history of the previous century, but also to the events of today and tomorrow. And we aim for the program to be relevant to those interested in how power politics work, and how citizens can prove effective in defending peace, and the principles of a fair and just world.

Sean Ramsay

September 20, 2021

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