LITTLE ARMENIA—Students, youth and community members gathered at the Hollywood Armenian Center on April 5 for an exclusive screening of Roger Kupelian’s award-winning documentary, Dark Forest in the Mountains.
The event was organized by the AYF as part of the With Our Soldiers campaign, a year-long initiative aimed at raising awareness and support for the freedom fighters of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
“There is perhaps no better film to acquaint people of all backgrounds with the liberation of Artsakh than Dark Forest,” said AYF Executive Director Serouj Aprahamian. “If we care to take steps to build a brighter future for the people there, we must first learn about its history and the moving stories of those involved. I think watching the film instilled in all of us a renewed passion to get active.”
Originally filmed in 1994, the documentary succinctly chronicles the history of the region and the lead up to the Artsakh liberation struggle using a mix of digital animation, expert interviews, and on-the-ground footage. The film was shot and edited by Roger Kupelian, an accomplished Hollywood visual effects professional with such credits as Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, Men in Black 3 and his most recent project, East of Byzantium.
“If there ever was a place that spoke of the ancient fighting spirit, it is this,” said Kupelian about Artsakh. “We can all find our own journey there and I certainly can say, for one, that stepping foot on that land affected me for the rest of my life.”
Kupelian spent time on the frontlines, capturing scenes from the war as well as gripping exposes into the lives of commanders, volunteers, medics, and children affected by the conflict. He attended Thursday’s screening and engaged with the audience in a lively discussion following the film.
“Artsakh is still crucial today in terms of what our up-and-coming generations can do in order to affect the outcome of where Armenian lands will end up in the future,” remarked Kupelian about the importance of focusing on the issue. “A major loss now would be a catastrophe for the Armenian spirit. Additionally, a peace—certainly on fair terms for native Karabakhtsis—would invite back those who would once again work the land and bring back vital energy.”
Attendees were visibly inspired by both the film and the first-hand accounts shared by Kupelian during the discussion. Many stuck around after the filming to purchase copies of the film and to learn more about the AYF’s campaign.
Copies of the special-edition DVD, which includes a sequel featurette with rare interviews with participants in the war a decade after the cease-fire, can be purchased online at www.WithOurSoldiers.com.
Portions of all proceeds will go toward the medical treatment of disabled veterans of the Artsakh war in need.