Shirleyann and I were honored to be invited to present “Hove” as part of the Martyr’s Day Commemoration at St. John’s Armenian Church in Detroit. Father Garabed was an incredible host, kind, eloquent and welcoming.
As we drove onto the grounds of this beautiful church, we were struck by the powerful image of 1500 white crosses planted on the lawn. Each one representing 1000 of the 1,500,000 Armenians slaughtered in the 1915 genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
There was a beautiful requiem service in the sanctuary and an amazing short sermon by Father Garabed. He spoke of the importance of viewing the aftermath of the Genocide as a victory, a victory of survival. He addressed the danger of the Armenian community thinking of themselves as ‘victims’, rather than as victors. As the parent to an Armenian child it really made me pause. I was reminded of the importance and force of the words we use and how powerfully they can define our behavior and self-esteem.
Then a wreath was laid outside at the Martyr’s Monument while the choir sang a hymn, “Martyrs Rest In Peace.”
A traditional Madagh dinner was served and we then screened the film in the Cultural Hall to a packed audience.
This was the first time that HOVE was screened as part of a Martyr’s Day commemoration. I was truly moved and really felt speechless to know that there were actual survivors in attendance.
On a personal note, I was thrilled that the evening was so well attended and had gone so beautifully as this is Shirleyann’s hometown and there were lots of old friends for her to see after the event.
Thank you so much to Father Garabed and the congregation of St. John’s for such a moving and wonderful evening.
It was my honor to screen HOVE for the 6th – 11th grades of the Holy Martyrs Sunday School. There is often a feeling of concern about the subtlety of the film or the intensity of the subject matter in terms of whether the students will be engaged or have anything to say after.
It was refreshing once again to see that young people, when asked to fully participate, are more than ready to engage and analyze cinema/history/politics at the very highest levels. The questions, the discussion, the testimony were all impressive, eloquent and powerful.
A young man described his encounter with genocide denial, when he and a group of parents and students protested the Genocide denial outside the Turkish embassy and were confronted with a pinocchio-like puppet that was supposed to be mocking the history of the Genocide and indicating that it was all lies as pinocchio had told in the children’s story. Nothing more clearly illuminates the deep pain of genocide denial than this story. Having to carry the burden of the loss of family trees, whole portions of our community gone forever AND to carry the weight of the perpetrators refusing to acknowledge their crimes while having the audacity to call the Armenian community, liars. It is interesting that they used this imagery from a children’s story since the whole notion of Genocide denial comes from a place of profound immaturity and ultimately childishness.
There were many such powerful stories shared; and new insights into the film as well that I have never heard before, even in adult groups.
Another woman told a chilling story of being called in by a doctor at a medical group she used. Once inside the doctor explained he had taken the case because he knew she was Armenian. She assumed he must be Armenian as well since he had done this. He then proceeded to explain that he was Turkish and wanted to make sure she shared his opinion of the “lies” told about the Genocide. She was shocked and had to have her daughter come in to even be able to respond to this man.
Many mentioned that if they had been told of their family’s personal history in the Genocide it only happened once. They could never get that relative to speak of it again. It literally came up three or four times in this one hour discussion.
As always I am left a bit speechless and overwhelmed by all this history that is so important and yet spoken of so rarely. I salute the participants for their honesty, bravery and generosity to talk about this difficult subject.
Thank you so much to Lynn Cetin and the Holy Martyrs Sunday School faculty for sharing their time and their extremely bright group of students.
Very excited to have “Hove” screen as part of this conference. There is a large attendance and the audience should be a really interesting mix of people from all over the world. The conference will run from November 18-21 and the accompanying film festival will run those dates as well. Here is the link to the website:
If you attend please email me and let me know what the audience reaction was and your reaction to the screening.
I am delighted to let you know that “Hove” has been made an official selection of the Artivist Film Festival (http://www.artivist.com/festival/festival.php). This is a great film festival that looks at film through “the lens of the activist, the lens of the artist …”.
It is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide and to bring this story to yet another audience.
It is also a great platform to connect with a unique group of filmmakers and with Hollywood power-brokers that have a connection to and a passion for issue-driven films. This festival attracts filmmakers and producers that are not afraid of tackling tough or challenging subjects. A perfect place for a film about the Armenian Genocide to be shown and a perfect place to meet producers who might be interested in exploring more of this history in a feature film. I am working on the feature film goal on many fronts and will keep you informed!
Thank you to Artivist for inviting “Hove” to be a part of their fantastic festival and for having the courage to celebrate this type of film – when we are surrounded by an industry that often runs from controversy or intense subject matters.
I am really looking forward to the festival and will let you know more as I find out!
Korea, Italy, Israel … The small stone that is “Hove” continues to make ripples ever wider. I have received inquiries literally from all over the world. I have heard from Festivals inviting “Hove” as well as educational groups, Genocide-prevention organizations and it just keeps coming!
It is really exciting because this means that people, I don’t even know, are now talking to other people around the world and telling them about this film they have seen at a festival or at an educational event – for example “Hove” will screen for as many as 2,000 people at the Middle Eastern Studies Association gathering in Southern California later this year. For a long time I have made huge efforts to get the word out about the history of the Armenian Genocide and our little film but now through the festivals and groups like Facing History the film is doing the work itself. Olympia and Shirleyann’s performances and the lives they created up there on screen are working their own magic around the world. I am so blessed to have been able to finish this project and see it being received like this. Thank you in particular to the Dadourian Foundation, AGBU, Mark Hoplamazian and Haig Ariyan for their efforts on behalf of the film.
I will keep posting to let you know the latest on the film. Thank you for reading!
Shirleyann and I had the pleasure of screening “Hove” at Holy Martyrs for a wonderful and very engaged audience. Special thanks to the Educational Ministry Program and Dr. Lynn Cetin and Fr. Tavit for hosting the event.
The audience was really wonderful. Often, one of the most interesting things about screening the film for an Armenian audience is the personal stories that come out of the discussion. One woman shared how her mother kept her experiences of surviving the Genocide a secret for most of her life. She only shared the details very late in her life with her daughter.
Another woman talked about how her mother was never able to speak of any of her experiences during the Genocide. Never. I find it overwhelming, to think of the emotional burden that the mother carried in never sharing it with her children. Listening to the daughter, I could not even begin to fathom what a myriad of emotions she must feel about never being able to hear or share that part of her mother’s life. It is always amazing to see the emotions and stories that come out of these discussions.
Another attendee, a middle-aged man, told me of talking to his grandmother, who was a survivor, at a family event and deciding to seize the moment and videotape her memories. His mother, with alzheimers’ (and from my understanding not normally communicative at this point), listened to the grandmother narrating her death march story and started chiming in, confirming and echoing the grandmother’s story of survival.
These stories are really beyond words. My hope is to listen, remember and do honor to the generosity shown to me in having these stories told to me. My hope it to do honor to them by working in an effort to see more of these stories from the Genocide told with the power of cinema.
Shirleyann Kaladjian (who plays Nina in “Hove”) and I had the opportunity to show the film and discuss it at St. Vartan’s Saturday school. Specifically, we were screening it for the Khrimian Lyceum at St. Vartan’s which was comprised of students 12-18 years of age.
I am always a little nervous in the age of video games about screening a film with no explosions for a student audience, a film that has none of the blockbuster type appeal that we are constantly told is all that America’s youth are interested in. And each time this happens I have been pleasantly surprised. If anything, the student groups I have screened it for have been more perceptive, picked up on more of the visual storylines, metaphors and subtleties than the adult audiences. This was definitely true of this group. They were extremely engaged. The questions were amazing, the observations astute. It was a great time, and again, one of those events where we could have kept going except for the fact that we ran out of time. Thank you so much to Gilda Kupelian for inviting us and arranging the whole thing.
It was also very gratifying to have a number of the students follow up and ask whether they might show the film in a class of theirs or use it in an upcoming report on their cultural history, etc. In addition, one student apparently talked about it with enough enthusiasm to his parents that they then suggested it be presented at their church – which will lead us to the next blog about the presentation at Holy Martyrs Armenian Church in Bayside, NY!
Cleveland International Film Festival was really impressive. Very well attended, lots of passionate and informed filmgoers. Most of the screenings were sold out or on standby. Great questions from the audience after the screening of “Hove”. Always amazed at what people think they have heard. One person asked if the Turkish government hadn’t already acknowledged the genocide and apologized, probably a wild misinterpretation of the recent disastrous Turkish – Armenian protocols. I explained that no such acknowledgement or apology by the Turkish government had taken place. There was the very encouraging apology website signed by over 30,000 Turkish citizens but there is still a very long way to go.
Saw an amazing documentary called “9,000 Needles” – A man suffers a stroke and after months of care in top of the line US hospitals with no marked improvement and his insurance coverage maxing out, his family takes him to China to a special acupuncture stroke clinic. He sees more improvement there in one day than in all his previous traditional modern medicine treatments. It is a real eye opener.
Congratulations to Bill Guentzler for directing an amazing festival. More to come.
It was an honor to be invited to present “Hove (The Wind)” at this great museum. The Executive Director, Mariam Stepanyan, was very gracious and helpful with securing rights to one of the photographs used in the film. It was great to talk before a full house and also to meet the great staff of the museum.
One memorable moment, among many, was that an older Armenian woman shared with me the fact that she felt very connected to this story. Her mother, she confided in me, took her aside as a teenager and told her that she had to leave a baby behind on the death march into the Syrian desert. This woman also told me that, as far as she knew, she was the only one in her family that knew this. Her mother had only told her. When I think of the pain and weight this woman has carried by being the only one her mother has told it is heartbreaking. The legacy of the damage done by the Genocide seems to reverberate out and touch new generations again and again. I find it so powerful and deeply sad that this woman carries this family secret alone. None of her brothers or sisters apparently know her mother’s secret of their lost sister.
Another woman shared a story of her husband. She is not Armenian but her husband, who passed away was. She said, on many occasions, over the decades of their marriage, she found her husband sitting up in the middle of the night. Whenever she asked him about it he would only say that it had something to do with family tragedy and the Genocide. She mentioned it to me, because one of the indelible images from the film is Shirleyann’s character (Nina) sitting up on the edge of the bed staring out into space, haunted by something. We learn some of what is haunting her by the end of the film. In the case of this woman, who found her husband up in the middle of the night, she never found out what his family’s tragic story was. He took it to his grave.
These stories, confided to me, leave me with many emotions. Hopeful, that my film has done a reasonable job of honoring these people’s memories. Troubled by the obvious legacy of deeply felt anguish and pain that the Genocide has caused. Anger, at the notion that any of these experiences could ever be denied by the perpetrators: Denial, their final and greatest act of cowardice. It also makes me very grateful that Facing History is now using “Hove” in the classroom and that more and more American kids (Armenian and non-Armenian) are learning the history and that our film is playing a small part in launching that discussion.
Alex Webb (left, Director/Writer of “Hove (The Wind)” and Mariam Stepanyan (right, Executive Director of ALMA)
Next up, I will soon give an update on film festivals to come! Also, I will be presenting “Hove” to the St. Vartan’s upper grades of Saturday school (Armenian cultural and language) later in January. Thanks as always for your interest!