November 3, 2022: The Zoryan Institute is elated to announce that Aurora’s Sunrise is coming to theaters in Armenia between November 3-17th, 2022. With the release of the film, one can not help but reflect on the visionary efforts of the founding members of the Zoryan Institute some 40 years ago, when they initiated the Armenian Genocide Oral History Project. Thanks to their vision, and the tireless and emotionally taxing efforts of those who worked around the clock to collect approximately 3,000 hours of harrowing testimonies from Armenian Genocide Survivors in cities including Boston, Toronto, and Los Angeles, among others, filmmakers have been able to produce two films for the big screen, bringing the traumatic experiences of heroic women who lived through the Armenian Genocide to light.

In 1988, An Armenian Journey aired across the US on PBS. The film followed the journey Mariam Davis, the very first Armenian Genocide survivor that the Zoryan Institute had the pleasure of interviewing for its Armenian Genocide Oral History Program, as she made the clandestine trip back to her homeland in Eastern Turkey for the first time since she was 10 years old.

Now, almost 40 years later, another survivor’s inspiring story from the Institute’s Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection is coming to the big screen through the animated film, Aurora’s Sunrise. Losing everything at just 14 years old during the Genocide, Aurora escaped to the US, where she demonstrated immense bravery in sharing her story with the world through a memoir of sorts titled Ravished Armenia, and a Hollywood film titled Auction of Souls, to help raise millions of dollars for the Near East Relief Foundation’s efforts in assisting survivors of the Genocide. Over 100 years after the Genocide, bringing Aurora’s story to light through film would not have been possible without the Zoryan Institute’s efforts to collect testimonies, and the generous contributions of its supporters to undertake the project and preserve the collection.

New York poster of Auction of Souls

Press clips on screening of Ravished Armenia

The significance of the Zoryan Institute’s Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection, and the importance of sharing Aurora’s story through film is reflected in the following statement from Dr. Rouben Adalian, who conducted Zoryan Institute’s interview with Aurora,

“I think it is Aurora’s spirit, energy, ability to share her story… that now [led to this film] that future generations can analyze and find inspiration in the history that previous generations may not have noticed. This is Aurora’s legacy. This is the value of this interview. This is the unprecedented and important contribution that the Zoryan Institute made when I sat down with this survivor, as with many other survivors, but in this one case, with a woman whose name meant the very dawn that sheds light on the fact of how important it was to talk to the survivors and save their stories.”

Aurora’s Sunrise has received numerous accolades in the festival circuit, including the ‘Silver Apricot’ at the 19th Golden Apricot International Film Festival in Yerevan, and the ‘Audience Award’ at the Animation is Film Festival in Los Angeles. In September, it was selected as Armenia’s official selection for the “Best International Feature Film” category at the 95th Academy Awards. Screenings will take place over the next two weeks.

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