Bared Maronian

Program with Filmmaker Bared Maronian Sheds Light on Heroic Story of Armenian Women

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LEXINGTON, Mass. — A cultural program on Sunday, September 23, titled “Lights, Camera, Stories!,” diverges from the traditional script of many Armenian gatherings. First, it is a collaboration between two organizations — the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) and the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association — and second, it focuses on the history of Armenian women, celebrating them through the works of filmmaker Bared Maronian.

Aurora Mardiganian in “Women of 1915”

The event, however, is for everyone, Armenian and non-Armenian, and male as well as female.

The award-winning filmmaker will speak about his projects and show an abbreviated version of his documentary, “Women of 1915.” In addition, he will show footage he shot during the Velvet Revolution in April and discuss the Cultural Impact Foundation which he hopes to get off the ground to help him continue to make more documentaries, including the upcoming “Titanic Love.”

The program will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, located at 33 Marrett Road, Lexington.

Proceeds will benefit programs in Armenia and Artsakh sponsored by the host organizations, the Hanganak NGO Clinic Elderly Project in Stepanakert, Artsakh, and the Women’s Support Center in Yerevan.

Organizing committee chair, Nicole Babikian Hajjar, said: “Through this collaborative effort, we also hope to raise awareness about Bared Maronian’s important work and upcoming projects in partnership with Cultural Impact Foundation, a non-profit organization that commissions and supports unique cultural projects that can improve our understanding of historical events by revealing acts of human kindness and heroism in the face of adversity.”

Hatoon Bazarian disguised as a man, protecting her town during the Genocide, from “Women of 1915”

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The AWWA’s JoAnn Janjigian said, “It is wonderful that these two Armenian women’s organizations can collaborate and work together on an event that highlights Bared Maronian, his films, and his reflections on current political changes in Armenia.  Both AWWA and AIWA have a large pool of talented professional women.  Working together broadens our understanding and promotes friendships. And more importantly, we are supporting initiatives in Armenia that benefit greatly by our fundraising.”

When asked if more such collaborative projects would be forthcoming, she replied, “I certainly hope so.  We all benefit by these collaborations.”

In addition to the elderly clinic, the AWWA runs the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Maronian agreed about the importance of the mission of the event. “The event is a fundraiser for Armenian women’s organizations that do very important work. When they contacted me I was very happy, especially because of my work on ‘Women of 1915.’”

The film is doing very well internationally, Maronian noted, adding that an abbreviated version of it will be shown on the PBS show “To the Contrary,” most probably in December.

In addition, it will be shown on television screens in South America through a deal on which he is working now.

Maronian has made several documentaries, including “Orphans of the Genocide,” “Komitas Hayrig” and “Wall of Genocide.” However, “Women of 1915” has become his most popular work. The film is about not only the plight of the Armenian women who were raped and killed, but also Armenian heroines and many non-Armenian women, including missionaries, who came to the rescue of the Armenian nation.

Asked why the film was so popular, Maronian said. “The most important reason is the fact that beside being an Armenian story, it is a human story. It is a film about women’s empowerment.” Focus groups, he said, including non-Armenians, were all moved by the story. The women who survived, he said, created the Armenian Diaspora. The men were all either dead, on death marches or had left the country at that time, therefore the care and nurture of families rested squarely on the shoulders of the women who fed, raised and educated their children in those circumstances.

“That’s why it resonates. It is a universal story,” he said. “That is my forte, going after stories which are of Armenian origin but connect on an international level.”

Victoria Artinian, the grandmother of Steve Jobs

Among the women who survived was Victoria Artinian, the grandmother of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. “If this lady had not survived, would Steve Jobs have been the same? Steve Jobs loved Armenian food and was raised as an Armenian. He visited Turkey in 2007 and got into an argument about [the veracity of] the Genocide with the tour guide,” Maronian explained. Jobs had been adopted by Artinian’s daughter, Clara Hagopian, and her husband,  Paul Jobs.

Maronian is starting the Cultural Impact Foundation, to help him fund future films. At the top of the list of those projects is a documentary titled “Titanic Love,” about which he will speak at the Lexington event.

In short, the documentary is about two Armenians who were on the doomed ship. One had survived the Hamidian massacres in Turkey and was thrilled to finally board the “unsinkable ship.” Maronian has interviewed their descendants and how they reconnected over the generations. The story has many twists and turns worthy of a work of fiction, all with the dual stories of the ship and families intertwined.

While work on the film has been completed, Maronian said that he has not decided on a release date yet.

In addition to the stories of the previous generation, Maronian found himself in the midst of the stunning Velvet Revolution in Armenia this spring. In April, Maronian had been invited to show “Women of 1915” at the Armenian General Benevolent Union Center in Yerevan, at the height of the protests. As a result, he got some interesting footage and stunning photographs from the revolution. “I documented what I saw, some tense moments and happy moments followed.”

All of those will also be part of a documentary on the bloodless revolution led by youth in Armenia.

Young people celebrating during the Velvet Revolution (Bared Maronian photo)

“It was the youth that moved this forward,” he said. “They were extremely polite. The young men and women did not respond in violence. They hugged them [the police.] The most amazing thing was that they succeeded.”

Maronian, who was born in Beirut and now resides in the US, has won four Regional Emmy Awards and was a 2016 Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award Laureate. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Haigazian University and is a graduate of the Broadcast Career Institute of Palm Beach, Fla. His production credits include national, regional and local television programming for the American PBS network spanning over 20 years.

In 2006, Maronian founded the Armenoid Team, primarily producing thematically Armenian documentary films for international distribution. His films, including “Orphans of the Genocide” have reached  millions of households and been translated into several languages. “Orphans of the Genocide” was also screened in universities, colleges, school systems, museums, libraries, and communities in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Egypt, and elsewhere.

To learn more about the organizations, visit aiwainternational.org and awwa.us.

Tickets are $75 ($25 for students with IDs).

For tickets, email lightscamerastories@gmail.com or visit aiwainternational.org/ lightscamerastories.

 

 

 

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