From left, Asko Akopyan Nick Vallelonga, Peter Bonjuklian and Arman Nshanian

‘Songs of Solomon’ Receives Splendid Response at St. Leon Community Center

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FAIR LAWN, N.J. — “Empires Fail, Glory Fades, His Music Could Not be Silenced” describes the essence of “Songs of Solomon” which was filmed in Artsakh and Armenia with Armenian actors at the beginning of 2020, before COVID and the 40-Day War.

The Knights and Daughters of Vartan invited three Hollywood luminaries to present film clips and engage in a question-and-answer exchange on October 22. A generous number of trailers were shown which prompted informative discussions and comments. It was explained that the film has not yet been widely released and has been shown to select groups throughout the country which is a common practice in the industry.

Arman Nshanian, the director and a seasoned actor, expressed, “My intent is to draw global attention to Komitas and celebrate his music and contributions and not to replicate a biography of his life.”

Nick Vallelonga, a producer of the film, who is best known for winning two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for best original Screenplay and Best Picture for the 2018 “Green Book,” joined Nshanian, and Asko Akopyan, also a producer.

The film opens with a scene where Komitas is a child during the time of the Hamidian Massacres (1894-1896). One individual questioned, “In the scene where Komitas is a child, why is he speaking in Armenian? He spoke Turkish and did not learn Armenian until he went to the seminary in Echmiadzin.” Akopyan elaborated that the entire film is in Armenian (with English subtitles) and it was necessary to keep the integrity and authentic quality of the actors’ language; therefore Turkish was not an option. He further explained, “’Songs of Solomon’ is not a documentary and therefore, directors and screenwriters commonly employ artistic license, being careful to sustain the spirit of the story.”

Oppression perpetrated against Armenians by the government of Sultan Hamid II during Komitas’s early years in Turkey graphically depicted the forerunner to the 1915 Genocide.

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One visitor reflected on the evening’s film clips and discussions, saying, “I hope ‘Songs of Solomon’ will be viewed by millions of people and will come to know and appreciate our beautiful homeland and history, and most of all feel the resilience of the Armenian people.”

New Jersey State Senator Joseph Lagana was present to render opening remarks and presented a Proclamation to Peter Bonjuklian, Commander of Knights of Vartan, Bakradouny Lodge. He introduced the legislation, SCR.71, in the New Jersey State Senate to officially recognize the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), condemn Turkey and Azerbaijan for their aggression against the peaceful populations of Artsakh and Armenia, and to reaffirm the state’s commitment to recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The resolution passed in June 2021 to an over whelming majority.

 

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