A legacy of excellence in documentary filmmaking on Armenian heritage and the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
This story is contributed by Christine Vartanian Datian to The Armenian Mirror-Spectator Newspaper. Special thanks to Armenian Film Foundation Board of Directors Member Hratch Karakachian, CPA, ESQ for his contributions to this story.
ENCINO, Calif. — The Armenian Film Foundation (http://www.armenianfilm.org/drupal/) was established in 1979 as a non-profit, educational and cultural organization dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Armenian heritage in multi-media formats. Its primary aim “continues to be to inspire pride in, and world-wide recognition of, the Armenian people and their contributions to society, thereby fostering human dignity and enhancing understanding and goodwill between present and future generations of Armenians and other cultures.”
A key focus of the Armenian Film Foundation has been the interviews of the survivors of and witnesses to the Armenian Genocide. Its co-founder, Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, was born in Kharpert-Mezreh in 1913, located in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. He survived the Genocide because his mother hid him in a well behind the family home. His father was spared because he was an important medical doctor, and the family left Turkey for Boston in 1922, eventually settling in Fresno in 1927.
Hagopian attended Fresno State University, transferring to UC Berkeley, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. He went on to earn another masters and a PhD in Government and International Relations from Harvard University. After serving in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, he taught at several universities, including Banares Hindu University, India; American University of Beirut, Lebanon; UCLA and Oregon State University. While teaching, he realized there were few good films to show his classes and concluded that he could do better. He then completed two years of graduate work in cinema at the University of Southern California (USC).