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!