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Film about Armenian Genocide signals film-fest launch

Arlington International Film Festival signaled its upcoming start with “An Homage to the Armenian Community in the Greater Boston Area.”

The New England premiere of “Crows of the Desert — A Hero’s Journey through the Armenian Genocide” occurred Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:30 p.m., in the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown.

The 62-minute documentary is by Marta Houske, a U.S. writer, director and producer; executive producer Paul G. Turpanjian and music by John Massari.

A Q&A follows the screening with Levon Parian, a renown photographic artist and grandson of the subject, Levon Yotnakhparian. Parian’s work will be on exhibit in the lobby of the Mosesian Center.

The film festival is proud to announce its first partnership with the Mosesian Center for the Arts to present this award-winning film in commemoration of the Armenian genocide and an homage to our Armenian community. This event rolls out the red carpet for the eighth annual film festival, set for Nov. 1 through 4 at the Capitol Theatre.

“Crows of the Desert” is a documentary based on the memoirs of Yotnakhparian. The film recounts the incredible true story of one man’s desperate struggle to not only stay alive but to help save his people from near extinction in the 20th-century’s first genocide.

World War I was raging in the Middle East, as the British fought side by side with the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire. Amid the chaos, Levon led a small expeditionary group on a daring mission to rescue the scattered, destitute survivors of the Armenian genocide. Along the way, they would risk their lives countless times, endure unimaginable hardships and cross paths with some of the 20th century’s most legendary figures, such as Prince Faisal and Lawrence of Arabia.

Extraordinarily rare film footage and photographs, as well as recently rediscovered documents, have been gathered from archives around the world to reveal a harrowing journey that is at once heart-wrenching and inspirational.

Tickets $15 at the door or online >>

“The Armenian genocide was the ruthless slaughter of millions of Armenians by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire,” Levon Parian said. “In 1915, during World War I, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country.”

Parian has been referred to as a philosopher and poet of the camera, a renowned photographer whose work encompasses the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. His experimental style pushes the boundaries of photographic self-expression and has been collected by private individuals as well as museums, and universities. He was honored with his artistic colleagues by Foreign Policy magazine as being “among the 100 leading global thinkers of 2015.”

The award was for “preserving the history of a genocide” through the innovative, larger-than-life public installation “iwitness,” showcasing portraits of Armenian genocide survivors created in commemoration of the 100th anniversary. The installation was the first of its kind in Los Angeles’ landmark Grand Park and led to the first permanent memorial in Los Angeles to the genocide of 1915. Parian has taken his grandfather’s memoirs, editing and translating his memories to give us this firsthand account of the genocide.

The Mosesian Center for the Arts (formerly the Arsenal Center for the Arts) is a vibrant multidisciplinary community arts venue in Watertown This 30,000-square-foot former U.S. Army arsenal is home to the 380-seat Main Stage Theater, a 100-seat Black Box Theater, Exhibition Galleries, two rehearsal halls, education classrooms and resident-artist studios.

Offerings include visual- and performing-arts productions, classes and workshops for all ages, literary/art discussions, and world-class theatrical and musical performances. The center is home to the award-winning Watertown Children’s Theatre as well as New Repertory Theatre, Professional Theatre Company in residence.

For the past eight seasons, the Arlington event has curated a festival in the fall that celebrates the very best of indie local, national and international films for audiences to enjoy.


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