THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Los Angeles Daily News) — J. Michael Hagopian, a two-time Emmy Awardnominated filmmaker whose 70 documentaries on the Armenian Genocide won more than 160 awards, has died. He was 97.
Hagopian, a survivor of the Genocide that killed an estimated 1.5 million people in Turkey from 1915- 23, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Thousand Oaks. Hagopian filmed nearly 400 interviews of survivors and witnesses to the genocide from around the world, and made 17 documentaries about Armenian heritage, culture and history.
Said Marc Mamigonian, director of academic affairs at the National Association for Armenians Studies and Research (NAASR): “Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s death is a sad loss for NAASR and for the whole Armenian community. He was instrumental in NAASR’s first decade of existence in establishing a strong presence in California, where he was a key person in fundraising for NAASR’s Harvard Armenian Studies Chair campaign and, as a member of our Board of Directors, spearheaded NAASR’s UCLA Armenian Studies Chair campaign. In recent years we were privileged to present showings of several of his important documentaries on the Armenian Genocide. He leaves a huge legacy through his work as a filmmaker and as a tireless worker to increase knowledge of Armenian issues. We must honor his memory by continuing the vital work he was involved in throughout his remarkable and long life.”
“Mr. Hagopian’s documentary films on the Armenian Genocide are a path-breaking work that will help inform generations to come of the facts of the first genocide of the last century,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena), who screened some of the films on Capitol Hill and worked with the filmmaker on a variety of local Armenian issues. “He will be deeply missed.”
Hagopian received two Emmy nominations in 1976 for “The Forgotten Genocide.” His last film in a trilogy on the Genocide, “The River Ran Red,” won Best International Historical Documentary at the Amnesty International Film Festival in November and at the New York International Film & Video Festival in 2009.
“Through his life and career, Dr. J. Michael Hagopian is proof that a single person can change humankind’s understanding of itself,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian said in remarks made several months ago at a commemoration for Hagopian. “He is proof that we can rise above intolerance and ensure future generations are armed with the information needed to combat bigotry in all forms.”