Anti-Genocide Film ‘Screamers’ Plays to Overflow Crowd On Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON–A standing room only audience joined with Members of Congress, film industry leaders, and genocide prevention advocates for a special Capitol Hill screening of Screamers, the gripping documentary about the multi-platinum, Grammy-award winning band "System Of A Down’s" campaign to end the cycle of genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The screening, held in the Mumford Room of the Library of Congress, was hosted by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Save Darfur coalition, ANCA Endowment Fund, and The Raffy Manoukian Charity. Joining Reps. Schiff and Pallone at the program were their colleagues, Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Lois Capps (D-CA), James Moran (D-VA), and Bart Stupak (D-MI), as well as Dan Glickman, a former US Representative from Kansas and Secretary of Agriculture who currently serves as the President of the Motion Picture Association of America. Congressional staff representing more that 50 Senate and House offices were also in attendance. The program was opened by the evening’s master of ceremonies Professor Paul Rothstein, a distinguished professor at Georgetown University’s Law School and a frequent contributor to nationally televised news programs. He welcomed Congressmen Schiff and Pallone to offer remarks and then invited the film’s director Carla Garapedian to introduce Screamers. In his opening remarks, Rep. Adam Schiff spoke forcefully about the importance of educating people about genocide and taking action to prevent it. "The reality is that as much as we say "never again", whether it is the Armenian Genocide or the Holocaust, it does happen again, it is happening today. The terrible and remarkable fact is that half way around the world in Darfur there is a genocide happening as we sit here tonight. And it is very hard to speak with moral authority about the genocide happening now, if we are not prepared to speak with moral authority about the genocide that took place in 1915." Rep. Pallone cited the important role that citizen activism plays in genocide recognition and prevention. "I have been around a long time now–almost 20 years–and the one thing I will say is that the Armenian Community and those associated with them, who are determined that the Armenian Genocide be affirmed by this Congress, by Turkey and by the world, are resolute. They will never stop. They will continue to "scream" until everyone recognizes the Armenian Genocide. And that is why this film is so important." Following the 90-minute film presentation, the audience participated in a panel discussion moderated by Professor Rothstein and including Screamers director Garapedian, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, and Save Darfur Policy Director Alex Meixner. Garapedian noted that "Genocide denial is the last stage of genocide, as Elie Wiesel so wonderfully and eloquently said. And because we are living in the politics of denial now, it creates for us a disconnection to a sense of who we are as human beings and it sends the message out to our children, that this, the greatest test to our humanity and our civilization– to stop the annihilation of a people–that we allow, this to occur. This is not a message we should be sending to our children."Unfortunately the precedent set in the case of the Armenian Genocide is that genocide can be committed with impunity," explained Hamparian. "Hopefully this movie will help turn the tide by inspiring a generation of Screamers to set the record straight and show that genocide cannot be committed without impunity. When the perpetrators and potential future perpetrators of genocide understand that, the world will be a safer place from the scourge of this terrible crime." Meixner, whose organization, Save Darfur, represents some 170 organizations and over 130 million people, noted the important steps toward ending the genocide in Darfur. "The first thing that must be done is to get the attention of the Administration and of Congress. The second thing that must be done is to get them to take action. We have seen over a million emails and postcards go to the Congress and Administration this year, and yet, the genocide continues. It is one thing to get people screaming; it is another to get governmen’s acting– and that is what we hope this film will help accomplish." The Capitol Hill screening of Screamers came on the eve of the impending introduction of Armenian Genocide legislation, led by Representatives Schiff, Pallone, George Radanovich (R-CA) and Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). The legislation, similar to that introduced in the previous session of Congress, already has the support of over 110 members of Congress. "Screamers is about exposing the denial of all genocide, Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, the Iraqi Kurds and the current horror in Darfur," said Garapedian. "It is about making sure the same critical message George Clooney and Don Cheadle are ‘screaming’ about is heard, that these atrocities ‘never happen again.’ And I believe, it is this generation, the ‘screamers’, who will make sure all genocide is recognized and ends, because ‘screamers’ will no longer tolerate or accept previous generations of politicians and humanitarians who have so miserably failed them." Screamers premiered at the American Film Institute Film Festival on November 2 and won the coveted AFI Audience Award. On hand for the opening were Garapedian, System Of A Down band members Serj Tankian, John Dolmayan and Shavo Odadjian, producers Pete McAlevey and Tim Swain, sponsor Raffy Manoukian of The Raffy Manoukian Charity and a host of genocide recognition and prevention activists from the ANCA, Save Darfur, and other groups. Screamers is a production of MG2 productions in association with BBC Television and The Raffy Manoukian Charity. Garapedian, a veteran reporter who has made a career of covering the most difficult stories, from Chechenya to repression in Afghanistan, follows the European tour of System Of A Down and their ongoing efforts, through music and activism, to raise awareness about denial of all genocide, tracing the band members’ own personal journey of their grandparents surviving the Armenian Genocide and its legacy of a century of atrocities. The film, distributed by Maya Entertainment, is currently playing in the Los Angeles area and will open on January 26 in New York and Washington, and on February 9 in Boston, Worcester, Mass. and Chicago. On December 22, during an ANCA-Western Region press conference outside of the opening of the film in Encino, California, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Garapedian spoke to the media about ending the cycle of genocide, from the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to the Genocide going on in Darfur today.

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