Nicole Babikian Hajjar and Bared Maronian

An Afternoon of History and Collaboration


LEXINGTON, Mass. — “Lights! Camera! Stories!,” a collaboration between the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) and Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), held at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library on Sunday, September 23, attracted a large, diverse audience for an afternoon with filmmaker Bared Maronian.

Event chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar introduced Maronian, a veteran documentarian who has won several regional Emmy Awards, as a born storyteller. “This man knows how to put the story in history,” she said.

“We hope [this event] can inspire many more collaborations,” Hajjar said.

The program raised about $18,000, which will be divided between the two sponsoring organizations for their projects, the Hanganak NGO Clinic Elderly Project in Stepanakert, Artsakh, and the Women’s Support Center in Yerevan.

From left, Nicole Babikian Hajjar, Bared Maronian and Jean-Jacques Hajjar

Maronian showed an abbreviated version of his award-winning 2016 film, “Women of the Genocide,” with clips about some Armenian women, such as Genocide survivor Aurora Mardiganian, as well as non-Armenian rescuers such as Danish Missionary Maria Jacobsen.

He also showed footage he had shot during the Velvet Revolution in April and the upcoming “Titanic Love,” about descendants of two Armenian survivors who had boarded the ill-fated ship. Six people from the same village, Keghi, were fleeing the Hamidian massacres.

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Maronian was in Armenia in April to show “Women of 1915” during the uprising and he was moved when he “witnessed amazing human kindness” by people in the leadup to the toppling of the regime. “There is an alternative to violence” when it comes to revolutions, he said. “This is the true message.”

He also spoke at length about the Cultural Impact Foundation, emphasizing that its work in making documentaries, with Armenoid Production, which he founded, is focused on encouraging and highlighting the positive in human interactions. “It is all about enlightenment and shedding light on darkness,” he said. The effort, he said, will show the power of documentary filmmaking “as an educational tool in educating non-Armenians” about the tragic chapters in Armenians’ past.

Hajjar, in her introduction, spoke about Maronian successfully making connections, such as in the case of Dr. Chris Sassouni, who as a result of a chance meeting with Maronian, became involved with working on his film, “Orphans of the Genocide,” and found out that his grandfather had helped rescue many during the Armenian Genocide.

Bared Maronian

Sassouni, who knew next to nothing about the Armenian Genocide before meeting Maronian, now is the chair of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Impact Foundation. The foundation has raised $80,000 so far to help it achieve its vision.

Zela Astarjian, the head of the New England chapter of AIWA, after the program expressed her pleasure with the afternoon. “The collaboration was one of the most amazing I have experienced,” she said.

She added that she was crying during the program because her grandfather was “one of those orphans in Lebanon.” The program “showed the resilience of the human spirit,” she concluded.

Jackie Abramian and her husband, Harout DerSimonian

Jackie Abramian, the co-writer of the “Women of 1915,” was also in attendance. “Working with Bared has been superb. We met on LinkedIn and I’ve been working with him more than 10 years.”

Abramian is the senior media strategist at Bridgeview Marketing in Portsmouth, N.H. and founded Global Cadence in Kittery, Maine, where she and her husband co-own Haley Art Gallery.

The award-winning “Women of 1915” is gaining traction nationally and will be shown on Voice of America Television, as well as PBS, later this fall.

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