Filmmaker Embarks On Journey To Document Ethiopian Armenian Community

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YEREVAN—Aramazt Kalayjian, an American Armenian who repatriated to Armenia in 2012, is directing a documentary about the Ethiopian Armenians.

Kalayjian will be returning to Ethiopia in March to continue the second phase of production with crew members, Marie Claire Andrea (Producer), Miles McNulty (Associate Director) and Tamirat Mekonen (Cinematographer). Ani Jilozian (Editor), Saro Paparian (Sound Designer), and Raffi Wartanian (Associate Writer) are part of the crew involved in post-production which will be completed in Yerevan, Armenia.

Currently, Kalayjian has interviewed 35 members of the Armenian community, 10 famous Ethiopian musicians, 3 researchers of Ethiopian-Armenian history, and two members of Ethiopian Orthodox clergy. Release date is slated to be in April of 2014

About the Ethiopian Armenians
The Ethiopian Armenians’ phenomenal achievements have contributed greatly to Ethiopian society. Armenians brought the first car to Ethiopia, imported guns to help stave off Italian invasion, and created the first Ethiopian national anthem. Forty Armenian Genocide survivors, orphaned and living in Jerusalem, were adopted by Emperor Haile Selassie I to create the first imperial orchestra of Ethiopia. One Armenian man raised a generation of musicians and singers who have moved on to create an addictive form of big-band jazz that has found an international name today.

Ethiopian Armenians have also met with challenges. They’ve struggled to gain acceptance into a larger Ethiopian society and many of their properties, businesses, and homes have been usurped. They’ve seen an exodus of their community members, many of whom fled the communist Derg Regime. There are no more than 100 members of the Ethiopian Armenian community left in Ethiopia.

About TEZETA [The Ethiopian Armenians]
The Ethiopian Armenians’ story has rarely been told.
In Ethiopia, the communist Derg regime re-wrote much of Ethiopian history in an attempt to erase the history of imperial influence on their society, an influence that Armenians benefitted from owing to their trusted and religious connection to the royalty. There are few and rare books that document Armenians’ migration to Ethiopia. There are few researchers focusing on that history today. Only recently have historians and researchers begun to center their attention on this unique bond and kinship that has lead to a fruitful cultural romance over the centuries.

This documentary aims at creating a first-ever international film that will highlight the unique connection between Ethiopians and Armenians. In order to continue filming with high quality production, the TEZETA crew needs funds for equipment, travel, crew-hire, permits and boarding.

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