Seattle, WA – On Saturday, December 7, 2002 the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) hosted a private screening of “Ararat,” Atom Egoyan’s highly acclaimed new film about the Armenian Genocide. Public officials, members of Congress and their staff were all invited to attend this special screening. The private screening, at the Landmark Metro Cinemas in Seattle Washington, succeeded in both educating public officials about the horrors of the Armenian Genocide but was an effective way of promoting the film as well.
ANCA-WR Community Outreach Coordinator Areen Ibranossian and ANC activist and Rostom Sarkissian, passed out informative flyers about “Ararat,” the Armenian Genocide and the ANCA-WR. Community donations helped raise the funds for the event. Through individual donations, over $2,000 was raised from the Southern California Armenian community to purchase tickets for an entire showing of the film. The remaining tickets were distributed amongst interested members of the public who had not heard of the movie or the Armenian Genocide.
Over 70 people attended the private screening including Congressman Jim McDermott, representing the Seattle district. Also in attendance were former Washington State Senator, , a representative from the Canadian Consulate in Seattle, and a representative from the Seattle Holocaust Commission. The remainder of the audience was comprised of various leaders of the Seattle Armenian Community and non-Armenians interested in viewing the first major motion picture about the Armenian Genocide.
“It was a very powerful movie, it’s a subject matter I have never seen before,” commented Congressman McDermott after the screening. “The movie gives you a snapshot of what happened… I think the ANCA-WR should do screenings like this more often because there is a real need to educate people about this issue. “I am very pleased that the ANCA-WR invited me to this private screening of ‘Ararat’,” Congressman McDermott added.
The Congressman went on to comment on why the United States Government should officially recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by stating, “It’s hard for me to believe that it has never happened. It should have happened a long time ago and it should happen now.”
Congressman McDermott was one of the co-signers of a letter to President George W. Bush in April of 2002, calling on the President to honor his campaign pledge of referring to what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. “Private screenings like this one are essential in educating not only elected officials but the general public about the atrocities of 1915,” remarked Sarkissian. “The importance of mobilizing the community and rallying around this movie is key to conveying our message of justice denied to the average citizen.”
Earlier this year, the ANCA co-hosted a screening of “Ararat” at the Library of Congress where members of House and Senate watched the historic film and heard comments from the director. In California, the ANCA-Western Region hosted a screening in Hollywood for public officials and staff which attracted over 120 viewers. The successes of these two events combined with the nation-wide “Take A Friend To Ararat” campaign have led to other ANCA screenings of the movie “Ararat.”
In Washington, DC, the ANCA is scheduling another screening of the movie for supporters of last year’s Genocide Resolution, Senate Resolution 307, which anticipated the 15th anniversary of the Senate ratifying the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention of Genocides and specifically mentioned the Armenian Genocide.
“As Armenian-Americans we all need to do whatever we can to make sure as many people as possible see this move and learn about Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. This is a golden opportunity for the Armenian-American community and we have to utilize this film to its maximum extent,” observed Ibranossian.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.