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.