An Armenian actor acting as Ambassador Henry Morgenthau reads cables from various American sources that relate the realities of the Armenian massacres. Another man, acting as American diplomat Leslie Davis, photographs the violent scenes with an old-fashioned camera. Then a woman, dressed as Clara Barton, is looking into a vintage mirror, preparing for a trip to the Ottoman Empire to help the suffering Armenians. These featured scenes based on historical realities are from a new Armenian film that showcases the story of the American people who supported the Armenians during the 1915 Genocide and Hamidian massacres.
“The American Good Samaritans” by producer Manvel Saribekyan combines documentary and historical fiction approaches. Saribekyan declared: “Documentaries about the Armenian Genocide are often hard to watch – I mean emotionally. Therefore, I chose to add some fictional scenes that visualize the deeds of historical characters. This was the second film in which I applied such tactics.” His first film was the “Map of Salvation,” which showcased the story of European missionaries that assisted Armenian people during the most tragic period of Armenian history.
While working on his first film in 2015, Saribekyan understood that the geography of good Samaritans was vast. Therefore, while his second film focused on American missionaries, the third one will tell about people from Australia and New Zealand.
For “The American Good Samaritans,” Saribekyan’s crew conducted recordings in America as well as Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. Among the interviewees were Dr. Rouben Adalian (Armenian-American historian), Dr. Sargon Donabed (Assyrian-American author), Dr. Levon Avdoyan (a former specialist at the Library of Congress), Dr. Antranik Dakessian (associate professor at Haigazian University in Lebanon), Garo Mardirossian (lawyer), Shant Mardirossian (director of the Near East Foundation), Karen Mkrdchyan (researcher from Iran), Dominica Macios (researcher from Poland) and Dr. Konstantinos Fotiadis (historian from Greece).
The author of this article was honored to be part of the working team in the United States. To the best of my knowledge this is the first documentary on Genocide (perhaps on any subject) produced in Armenia that was recorded in so many different geographic locations.
“When pursuing the project, I discovered many interesting stories about American missionaries and doctors, as well as about the history of the Armenian communities,” said Saribekyan, adding that the crew worked in six countries in total. In America alone, recordings took place at the Library of Congress, Harvard and Princeton Universities, Rockefeller Archive Center, the birthplace of Clara Barton, and several other locations related to the subject. The crew visited the grave of Ambassador Morgenthau in New York.