BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I’ll get to my annual rundown of Genocide commemoration events next week, since there was one event held on the night of the 24th that piqued my interest, and what I learned there was a bit disquieting. And… I didn’t want to give Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu any more play for his op-ed in a British newspaper echoing and attempting to amplify the vacuous fluff that Erdogan huffed and puffed about a few days earlier. But hey, were told its “historic” vacuous fluff he spewed!
Back to the event, which was a fundraiser held at the home of Mary Apick, an actress. The beneficiaries were the Armenian Film Foundation and the Memorah Foundation. Four genocides— Armenian, Jewish, Cambodian, and Rwandan —were addressed with survivors from the latter two speaking and brief videos presenting each of them. Everything was satisfyingly brief and timely after dinner was eaten. The main speaker was Dr. Ari Babaknia, author of a four volume publication about the Holocaust in Farsi. He had just published another book, “Humanity, Not” to which he spoke.
What intrigued me initially was the notion of having a fundraising event on the “day of” commemoration. I was torn. Is this a great idea, a way for those with greater financial means to contribute in the way they are best able? Was it inappropriate to do a money-based event on the day of remembrance? I am still undecided. It was certainly good that the crowd (over 100 people) was largely non-Armenian, and, Farsi-speaking. But it was also bad. I have no doubt that there were a few Armenians I did not recognize, but other than the hostess, I became aware of only 6 others! That does not reflect well on us.
One of those present was Kenny Davitian, who you’ll remember from the movie “Borat” that came out almost eight years ago. In talking to him, I learned that he has a production company, and the rights to making three Armenian Genocide related films, at least one of which, the screen adaptation of the book “Three Apples Fell from Heaven,” got a lot of play in the Armenian media when it was first announced about a year-and-a-half ago. He was quite irate that he can’t get funding to make these films, and certainly not in time for the 100th. He’s right to be. I’d be a lot less calm if I were in his shoes. This is the sort of thing we need BADLY. For political reasons, the major production companies won’t touch this material, i.e. they’re chickens, they don’t want headaches. We have to get moving if we expect to win the awareness war. It’s been 12 years since Egoyan’s “Ararat” came out! And nothing as significant has appeared since on the big screen. It’s time to start harassing those of us who are on the wealthy side to invest in these and other like-oriented movies. They could even make money off of the proposition! C’mon!
On the “idea” front mentioned in the title, I’ll provide more details on another occasion. This is the outline. A CONVERGENCE onto the Turkish consulate in Los Angeles (perhaps something similar could be done in NY at Turkey’s Mission to the U.N.), from Montebello by car, from the San Fernando Valley on bikes, and from Hollywood on foot. We’d end up with a heckofalotof people at Wilshire and Crescent Heights. We’d make a real impression.
Finally, to anyone or group organizing gatherings of any sort, here’s a plea. If for whatever reason you cancel them, advertise the cancellation in the same fora as where you publicized them to start with. I went to what was supposed to be a lecture on April 18, only to find naught but closed doors! That’s at best annoying, and more accurately, downright disrespectful. There wasn’t even so much as a sign on the door stating the event was cancelled!