WATERTOWN — In a regional premiere, the award winning documentary “Crows of the Desert – A Hero’s Journey through the Armenian Genocide” (“Crows”) will play at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown on October 7, at 4:30 p.m.
The screening is the featured “kick-off event” for the upcoming Arlington International Film Festival (https://www.aiffest.org/). “Crows” director, producer and writer is Emmy Award winner Marta Houske who is recognized for her historical documentaries. Houske labored for years to find materials to bring the “Crows” story to life as a film. Executive Producer Paul G. Turpanjian is the grandson of genocide survivors and upon reading the Memoirs was led to tell the story of the Armenian Genocide through the story of one man: Levon Yotnakhparian.
“Crows” has been the “Official Selection” of more than 20 film festivals to date wherein it won 9 times with 3 additional nominations. It frequently plays to sold-out audiences with many people returning to see it a second and third time. It features extraordinarily rare film and photographs as well as recently-rediscovered documents which have been gathered from archives around the world. The documentary is unique in that there are no on-camera interviews.
The film is made up nearly entirely of archival materials so as to transport the viewer into the events of a century ago. This year in London, “Crows” won a prestigious Focal International Award for “Best Use of Footage in a History Production” in a competition which recognized the “Crows” production company Matrix Communications as well as: National Geographic Studios, HBO Documentary Films, Ken Burns’ Florentine Films, BBC Arena, and the British Film Institute. As Focal states: “These awards are without doubt, the leading and most complete set of awards for archive footage in the world today.”
The musical score was created by composer John Massari whose team included many of the finest musicians in Los Angeles.
The production elements artfully combine to reveal the terror and heroism in this incredible true story which took place a century ago in the Syrian desert. “Crows” tells of one man’s brave struggle to not only stay alive, but to help save his fellow Armenian survivors from near extinction in the 20th century’s first genocide. World War I was raging in the Middle East, as Britain’s Lawrence of Arabia fought side by side with the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire. Caught up in the chaos, Levon barely escaped with his own life, time and again. Risking extreme peril, he returned to this dangerous realm to lead a small expeditionary group to rescue the scattered, destitute survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Along the way, the rescuers risked their lives countless times, endured unimaginable hardships, and crossed paths with some of the 20th century’s most legendary figures, including Prince Faisal, Lawrence of Arabia, legendary spy Sarah Aaronsohn and the El-Attraches (al-Atrash). The story reveals how individuals from a variety of different cultures and faiths stepped forward to help the Armenian refugees.