Aurora’s Sunrise

The Making of Aurora’s Sunrise

About Aurora’s Sunrise

Aurora’s Sunrise tells the brave story of survival of a 14-year-old girl who lost everything during the Armenian Genocide. Her family was murdered before her eyes, she was sold into sexual slavery and harems, and yet she always managed to escape, survive, and maintain her humanity by telling her story to the world.

This film seamlessly blends footage from the Zoryan Institute’s original 1984 interview of Aurora Mardiganian with the brilliant animation of Bars Media and their German and Lithuanian co-producers, along with scenes from the 1919 silent film “Auction of Souls”, the very first film on genocide in Hollywood starring Aurora Mardiganian as herself.

The Zoryan Institute signed a partnership agreement with Bars Media in 2015 to bring Zoryan Institute’s oral history testimonies to life on the big screen through animation, to relay stories of genocide survivors to younger generations, and more importantly to help empower young women and girls around the world to follow in Aurora’s footsteps and represent their own communities in the face of persecution, violence and trauma.

Aurora’s Sunrise was made possible with the academic contribution of the Zoryan Institute Armenia and is based on its oral history archives. The film is directed by Inna Sahakyan, who was skillfully able to fuse together this emotional, historical, educational and creative work of art. The film is produced by Bars Media, Gebrueder Beetz Film produktion & Artbox Laisvalaikio Klubas, with the financial partnership of Eurimages, the Zoryan Institute Armenia & the National Cinema Center of Armenia, and with the contributions of the Lithuanian Film Center, ZDF/ARTE, Public TV Armenia, and LRT.

The world premiere of Aurora’s Sunrise took place at Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June of 2022. Read the Zoryan Institute’s press release on the premiere here. Since entering the international film festival circuit in June 2022, Aurora Sunrise has been selected as the Armenian submission for the 2023 Oscars and has premiered at 20 different internationally renowned festivals around the world, with more to come. It has won nearly a dozen awards, including perhaps the most notable recognition, the Grand Prize at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) of Switzerland. The film is also highly ranked by some of the most influential film critics around the world, and has been used by the Zoryan Institute as an educational tool across Canada and the United States.

Visit this page to learn more about Aurora’s story from Dr. Rouben Adalian, the scholar who conducted the 1984 oral history interview with Aurora Mardiganian.

Aurora’s Sunrise: True Story of Aurora Mardiganian, was made possible with the academic contribution of the Zoryan Institute and is based on its oral history archive. It is produced by Bars Media, Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion and Artbox laisvalaikio klubas, with the financial contribution of Eurimages, the Zoryan Institute,  National Cinema Center of Armenia, Lithuanian Film Center,  ZDF/ARTE, Public TV Armenia, LRT and others.