Multimedia Show to Highlight USC Institute Gala on April 15

Humanitarian Armin T. Wegner, Film Star Aurora Mardiganian and Filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian are part of cinematic tribute at gala event

LOS ANGELES—A dynamic cinematic show will give guests at the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council event in honor of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute a memorable introduction to the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project, an endeavor that has acquired worldwide support. Traveling from Italy to attend the April 15 event is Mischa Wegner, the son of one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century, Armin T. Wegner, who photographed the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and later protested the heinous crimes of the Turks.

The April 15 event, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which is the same venue as the annual Golden Globes awards show, will be a departure from the traditional banquet. A multimedia presentation will pay tribute to the late Armin Wegner and to the late documentarian J. Michael Hagopian, founder of the Armenian Film Foundation. A production team led by a show manager is working to present a quality program.

In addition to Mischa Wegner, who has continued his father’s message of not allowing the past to be forgotten by producing his own film on the Genocide, there will be several prominent guests in attendance. A full-house capacity is expected.

The gala event was organized to honor the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, for championing the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project. The Institute has been part of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences since 2006. Its Visual History Archive of testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust is one of the largest archives of its kind in the world.

The goal of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council is to bring together digital copies of all of the collections of interviews with Armenian Genocide survivors and eyewitnesses, essentially creating what may become the largest archive of Armenian Genocide eyewitness interviews. The J. Michael Hagopian/Armenian Film Foundation archive of 400 filmed eyewitness testimonies will be the first collection in the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project.

Hagopian’s first filmed interview with a witness to the Armenian Genocide was with Armin T. Wegner, in 1966. Wegner, a German with a doctorate in law, served as a volunteer medic during World War I. Witnessing the massacre of Armenians in 1915, he took the haunting photographs that today stand as a reminder of the heinous crimes of the Ottoman Turks. His work documenting the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and, subsequently, his open letter to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of the Jews have made him a human rights hero.

Hagopian, who completed two years of graduate work in cinema at USC after earning his doctorate in international relations at Harvard University, wrote, directed and produced more than 70 award-winning educational and documentary films in his 97 years. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including Jewish World Watch’s “I Witness” Award in 2008. He was presented with the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arpa Foundation for Film Music and the Arts in 2006.

The USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council continues to play a primary role in bringing together and enhancing the Armenian community. For tickets and information about the April 15 gala, contact Lori Muncherian at 310-936-4758, lmuncherian@verizon.net, or Jennifer Dunn at (213) 740-4913, jennifdd@dornsife.usc.edu.

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