WESTWOOD, Calif.–At a reception at UCLA last night, Creative Armenia was officially launched with a mandate to discover talent and empower stories of impact in the digital age. The event was co-hosted by Teri Schwartz, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and Dr. Eric Esrailian, producer of The Promise, who is also a founding member of Creative Armenia’s advisory board.
Grammy Award winning musician and activist Serj Tankian and social impact filmmaker Carla Garapedian introduced the organization’s first initiative – a $5,000 video challenge from the Oscar-winning director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda and The Promise). Filmmakers everywhere were invited to take part in Creative Challenge 001: Art of Impact with a submission of a short film, no more than 60 seconds, that takes on a human rights issue important to them.
“For me film is the greatest medium to confront catastrophe and expose the conscience,” Terry George says in the video. “The medium itself is the struggle of light against shadow.”
Launched in partnership with the The Promise, the Gulbenkian Foundation, a major anonymous benefactor, and a global network of supporters, Creative Armenia reflects the Armenian community’s increasing interest in the realm of human rights and entertainment. The Promise, which in recent weeks catapulted the saga of the Armenian Genocide onto the big screen, has been accompanied by a storm of human rights activity off screen – including the establishment at UCLA of a 20 million-dollar Promise Institute for Human Rights. All proceeds of the film will be going to charitable causes.
“To have something like this come out of a dark chapter of our history, moving toward the light, is extraordinary,” said Esrailian. “And it is heart-warming to see it all coming together at UCLA.”
Dean Schwartz added: “We look forward to the exciting work that Creative Armenia will be doing, as it plays a leading role at the cross-section of human rights, entertainment, and creative technologies.”
In attendance at the grand ballroom of the UCLA Luskin Center were the leadership of the Promise Institute for Human Rights, Shoah Foundation, Armenian Bar Association, Jewish World Watch, Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, the Aurora Prize, TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at UCLA, and the Richard Hovannisian Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA.
“We are at the beginning of a new cultural coalition,” said Garin Hovannisian, founder of Creative Armenia. “And we are proud to be building together this dynamic new cultural infrastructure.”
Creative Armenia is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles and Yerevan, Armenia. Its online platform is the hub of its programming, with its signature creative challenges, fellowships, video productions, and a digital magazine.