LOS ANGELES—The USC Shoah Foundation, whose digital archives soon will include the filmed testimonies of 400 Armenian Genocide eyewitnesses and survivors, will honor actor George Clooney at a gala dinner on October 3, in New York City – and significant Armenian attendance at the event is expected. The gala, chaired by Shoah founder Steven Spielberg, also will feature special guest Sandra Bullock and a musical performance by Norah Jones.
Armenian Film Foundation Chairman Jerry Papazian said, “We are thrilled to be participating in this event, paving the way for the inclusion of these Armenian Genocide eyewitness testimonies into the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation. We are encouraging a large Armenian presence at the event in support of the project.” Papazian confirmed that former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia John Marshall Evans will attend the banquet as part of the Armenian contingent.
Jon Stewart will emcee the gala honoring Clooney for his humanitarian work. The gala committee includes a broad spectrum of celebrities and influential people, including Matt Damon, Ralph Lauren, Jerry Seinfeld, William P. Lauder and Andrew Tisch. All of them are committed to helping raise money for the USC Shoah Foundation, whose mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry – and the suffering they cause – through the educational use of the Foundation’s visual history testimonies.
Shoah is actively engaged in an international fund-raising campaign to ensure completion of the integration of the Armenian testimonies so that they can be presented to the world in time for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in April 2015. “It’s crucial that we take the vital and precious words of those who went through the Armenian Genocide and make their testimonies available for students, educators and scholars so that they can learn directly from these eyewitnesses of history,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation.
In April 2010, the Armenian Film Foundation and founder J. Michael Hagopian, along with his wife, Antoinette, entered into an agreement with the USC Shoah Foundation to license the 400 Armenian Genocide testimonies filmed by Hagopian to Shoah’s Visual History Archive. Next month, Shoah will receive the digitized interviews from The Armenian Film Foundation. Upon delivery, these eyewitness accounts will be incorporated into the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
Shoah’s Visual History Archive is the largest digital collection of its kind in the world, with 105,000 hours of video testimony. The collection is available at 44 institutions around the world, and approximately one million students, researchers, teachers and lay people view the testimonies every year. In addition, thousands of high school students across the country can view the testimonies through IWitness, the Shoah Foundation Institute’s educational website that makes 1,300 full life histories and testimonies of survivors of genocides from the Visual History Archive available to secondary students so they can create multimedia projects and complete interactive activities.