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Art and Armenian Propaganda: Ararat as a Case Study


Name: Ararat, A True Story About Living Proof

Firm: Serendipity Point films

Recording Phase: Shooting finished in Autumn 2001.

Opening Date: 2002. first at Cannes film festival (France), then Toronto film fes¬tival (Canada). It is expected to appear in theatres in Autumn 2002.

Director: Atom Egoyan

Script: Atom Egoyan

Producers: Atom Egoyan and Robert Lantos

Assistant Producers: Julia Rosenberg and Simone Urdi

Picture Director: Paul Sarossy

Picture Editor: Susan Shipton

Costume Designer: Beth Pasternak

Production Designer: Philip Barker

Location Manager: Eardley Wilmot

Asst. Location Manager: Malcolm McCulloch

1st Asst Art Director: Stephanie Collins

2nd Asst Art Director: Joanne Malo

1st Asst Director: Fergus Barnes

1st Asst Pix Editor: Michelle Francis

Story: Events that are claimed to have happened between 1915 and 1917 in the Ottoman Empire. Film takes place at two different time periods. Almost every actor has two roles. That’s why it is also considered as a film within a film.

Cast: David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent carver, Bruce Greenwo¬od (as Dr. Clarance Ussher), Elias Koteas, Christopher Plummer, Raoul Bhaneja, Marie Josee Croze and Arsinee Khanjian.

Locations: Mainly Toronto and Alberta (Canada)

Distributor in USA: Miramax films (375 Greenwich St. New York, NY10013, US)

International Distributor: Alliance Atlantis,

Production Companies: Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture company and Serendipity point.


Edward Soroyan: He wants to record the pain and sufferings of 1915. He considers this as the dying wish of his mother.

Raffi: One of the important characters in the movie, Raffi’s son, Celia’s step-brot¬her and lover. His father was an ASALA terrorist, but was killed, as he was about to assassinate a Turkish diplomat. He has personal problems. In the movie, these prob¬lems are based on Armenian history and Turks. He plays a driver in the movie within the movie. That’s why he can also discuss the Armenian problem with Ali.

Ali: A half Turk actor. He is in a gay relationship with Philip. He plays the Turkish Governor Cevdet Bey in Edward Soroyan’s movie. He defends the Turkish points of view in the movie.

Celia: Ar?i’s stepdaughter. She is young and attractive. She is about 25 years old. She has a relationship with her stepbrother. She is bothered by the relationship betwe¬en her father, who she thinks committed suicide, and Ani. She thinks that her step¬mother was responsible for her father’s death. At the end she injures Philip as she tri¬es to destroy Gorky’s painting.

Ani: Raffi’s mother and Celia’s stepmother. Her first husband was an ASALA terro¬rist. She is an Art history expert. She has a troubled life. She is focused on Armenian problem. She has written a book about Gorky’s life. She works as a art director in So¬royan’s movie.

David: Customs official.

Philip: He is a security guard at the museum, which exhibits Gorky’s painting. He is in a homosexual relationship with Ali.

Arshile Gorky: Armenian American painter. He was a child during the events of 1915. The movie constantly uses his ‘mother and child’ painting. His childhood in turkey is portrayed as fiction and is not based on a true story.


Name Budget
(US Dollars)
Box Office
(US Dollar)
Next of Kin (1984)  37,000  
Family viewing (1987)    160,000
Speaking Parts (1989)  350,000  
The Adjuster (1991)  1,500,000  396,573
Calendar (1992)  80,000  
Exotica (1994)  5,000,000  5,046,118
The Sweet Hereafter(1996)  5,000,000  4,306,697
Felicia’s Journey (1999)    819,852


Howard in Particular (1979) 14 minutes, 16 mm. Black & White.
After Grad With Dad (1980) 25 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Peep Show (1981) 7 minutes, 16 mm. Black & white and Color
Open House (1982) 25 minutes, 16 mm. Color
In this Corner (1985) 60 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Next of Kin (1985) 72 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Men: A Passion Playground (1985)
The final Twist (1987) 30 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Family viewing (1987) 86 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Looking for Nothing (1988) 30 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Speaking parts (1989) 92 minutes, 35 mm. Color
The Adjuster (1991) 102 minutes, 35 mm. Color, Dolby stereo, cinemascope
The Montreal Sextet (1991)
Montreal Vu Par (1992) 20 minutes, 35 mm. Color, dolby stereo, for TV
Gross Misconduct (1993) 120 minutes, 16 mm. Color, CBC
Calendar (1993) 75 minutes, 16 mm. Color
Exotica (1994) 104 minutes, 35 mm. Color, dolby stereo
A Portrait of Arshile (1995) 4 minutes, 35 mm. Color
Saravande (1996) 60 minutes, 16 mm. Color
The Sweet Hereafter (1996) 100 minutes, 35 mm. Color, dolby stereo, cinemascope
Felicia’s journey (1998) 120 minutes, 35 mm. Color, ciolby digital, cinemascope
Krapp’s Last Tape (2000) 65 minutes, color, dolby digital
Ararat (2001)


Howard in Particular (1979); After Grad With Dad(1980); Peep Show (1981); Open house (1982); Next of Kin (19849; family Viewing (1987); Looking for Nothing (1988); Speaking Parts (1989); The Adjuster (1991); Montreal Sextet (1991); Calendar (1993); Exotica (1994); Sweet Hereafter (1997, nominated for Oscar),

Movies Produced by Egoyan: Next of Kin (1984); Family Viewing (1987); Spe¬aking Parts (1989): Calendar (1993); Exotica (1994); Curti’s Charm (1995); The Sweet hereafter (1997).


Awards - Memberships
Venice film festival, Best Movie Jury membership
Order of Canada
1999 Colombia University, Armenian center Award (Anahid Literary Award)
Select Canadian Award, given by the Armenian Associations Center
French Government’s ‘Chevalier des Arts et Letters’ award
Cannes film festival, Official Jury membership
Toronto Art award
Festivals And Awards His films Won

Felicia’s Journey: Toronto International film Festival, Premiere, 1999); New York film festival, Closing Night, 1999); Best cinematography, (Official Competition, Can¬nes film festival, 1999)

The Sweet Hereafter: Nominated for two Oscars. (Best Scenario and Best Director, 1997); 8 Genies (including Best Picture and Best Director, 1997); Large Jury Awards (Official Competition, International Cannes film festival, 1997); Independent Spirit Award, best foreign film (1997); International critics Award, International Cannes film festival (1997); Ecumenical Award, International Cannes film festival (1997); Toronto City Award, Toronto film festival (1997); Golden Spike Award (1998); national Board of review Award for best Ensemble Cast (1998). Additionally, he competed in Toronto, New York, Boston, Lacorno, Telluride, Taormina, Aspen and Vallaloid festivals.

Calendar: Canadian Film and Video Festival, 1999.

Honorary Doctorates: Trinity College, Emily Car Institute of Art and Design; Victoria University; Brock University; Ontario College of Arts, Queen’s University.



Arto PARAGAMIAN: Director. He is seen as the most promising Canadian Armenian director after Egoyan. He says that his Armenian identity appears in movies like a prac¬tical joke. His productions are usually in French or English.

Garine TOROSSIAN: Born in Beirut in 1970. She has been living in Toronto since 1979. It is reported that Egoyan and other Armenian director have been supporting her. According to Canadian critics, Torossian is considered one of the 10 best direc¬tors of the future.

Hrant ALIANAK: He is considered as one of the founders of the Canadian theatre. In 1967, he moved from Sudan to Montreal. He careful to include Armenian symbo¬lisms in his production. He says that he is the first Armenian that was interested in the theatre and that Egoyan was his follower.

Raffi ARMENIAN: Musician-Composer. His works are mainly in classical music and opera. He is the artistic director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, which is slowly getting famous. He was also involved in the construction of the Concert Hall that is named after him. He was nominated for an Emmy and has many recordings. He is a member of the Order of Canada and is currently working as a teacher in the To¬ronto University. One of his songs was used in the 1992 Woody Allen film, Shadows and fog.

Nurhan ARMAN: She moved to Canada in 1982 from Istanbul. At first, she became the music director of North Bay Symphony Orchestra. At the same time, she worked as a visiting lecturer at the Royal Toronto Conservatory. Later, she worked at the New Brunswick Symphony’s music director. In 1993, she was appointed as the guest direc¬tor of the Yerivan Symphony Orchestra. Arman is currently working at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Diva Isabel BAYRAKDARIAN: An Opera star. She was born in Lebanon. When she was 15, her family moved to Toronto. Wile training to be an engineer, she took up mu¬sic lessons in order to enter the Church chorus. She is currently 25 years old and se¬ems to have great potential as a musician.


Ali Cevdet (Belez) Bey was appointed to the post of governor of Van on November 11, 1914. He was born in ??kodra in 1878. His parents were Governor Mehmet Tahir Pasha and Hatice han?m.

His intermediate education was at Nümüne-i Terrakki Mektabi and his higher edu¬cation was at Mülkiye ?dadi and Mülkiye High Section.

On April 30, 1903 he was appointed as an apprentice to his Governor father in Van. After completing his apprenticeship he was appointed as district kaimakam.

On September25, 1904 he was transferred to ?emdihan, on October 28, 1904 to Geva?, on October 17, 1905 to Namidiye, February 25, 1906 to Erci?, on March 10, 1908 to Mahmudi, on October 14, 1909 to Karyot, on February 23, 1910 to Bey?ehri, on November 1, 1910 to Filorina and on March 19, 1911 to Nevrecop districts.

His achievements on duty were noticed and he was promoted to district governor of Nevrecop. On January 10, 1912 he was transferred to Hakkari and on November 11, 1914 he was appointed to the post of deputy-Governor of Van.

Rafael de Nögales, who volunteered to serve in the army during the First World War describes Cevdet Bey as:

‘He is the brother-in-law of Enver Pasha. Governor of Van Cevdet bey is slim with a good physique. He was an Ottoman gentleman, polite, nice and courageous.’[1]

Cevdet Bey was married in 1914 and had one boy and a girl. He was appointed to the cities of Adana in April 2, 1916 and to Ankara in October 22, 1916. He knows French and was awarded ‘Legion D’ Nonneur’ and ‘Chevalier’.

In February 1917 he quit his post in Ankara. He moved to Bergama and started to work in farming. He died in January 1955 in Istanbul.


1857 - A printing facility is established at the Varrak Monastery. Newspapers such as ‘Vaspurgan’ or ‘Van Kartal?’ were published here in order to prepare for an uprising.[2]

1880, September — British assistant consul Clayton reports that Armenians are get¬ting ready for an uprising. He says that Armenians were promised support by the Rus¬sian Czar.

1882 - The founding of the ‘Black Cross’ association. It’s objectives are to arm Ar¬menian youths and to stage uprisings at certain regions.

1884, February 14 - Armenian Central Committee, whose objectives include to stage armed uprisings, has secret members in Yerivan, Alexandrapol, Tabriz, Istanbul, Trabzon, Erzurum and Van and publishes a monthly newspaper.

1892, September 15 - The demolishment of a monastery in a form of castle in the village of Dirik, which was constructed with the help of Iranian and Van’s Armenians and a Russian priest.[3]

1893, 1 August - A person called Nazar Aga from Ele?kirt, is involved in the Erzu¬rum incidents and is purchasing weapons in Tiflis in order to send to Van.[4]

1894, May 14 - Priest Kalost from Dere Church is jailed for three years by the Van District Court for inciting the public against the government.[5]

1894, August 26 - Secret letters sent by Armenians from Athens are taken to Sivas, Merzifon and Van by a Greek ship’s personnel.[6]

1894, September 30 - I has been learned that Armenians traveling from Alexandria, France, London, America and Russia to Van or Bitlis choose the Egypt-Bagdad-Kerkuk route via Suez Canal or Iran instead of the Blacksea route.[7]

1894, November 13 - Armenian’s around the village of Doni in van have perpetrated rape and murder.[8]

1895, August 2 - It was reported by the Hoy Consulship that Armenians were getting ready for an uprising in spring.[9]

1895, May 23 - An armed Armenian group is caught in Mahmudi, Van and sent to Istanbul for their court case.[10]

1895, September 16 - The book of American Missionary Frederick Davis Green, ‘The sufferings of Turkey’s Armenians’, is republished by British Armenian As¬sociation, aifier it was ignored for a long time.[11]

1895, October 2 - Former Trabzon governor Bahri Pasha and military commander Hamdi Pasha are wounded by Armenians.[12]

1895, October 10 - ‘Le Temps’, ‘Figaro’ and ‘Le Matin’ report that Christians in Trabzon were massacred. However, the Armenian uprising resulting in the injuries of many people including Bahri and Hamdi Pasha and eventual peace is not mentioned.[13]

1895, October 20 - The establishment of the Anatolia Investigative Commission, which is responsible for peace in Trabzon, Erzurum, van, Sivas, Diyarbak?r, Mamuretülaziz and Bitlis.[14]

1895, October 28 - A armed Armenian group of 100 people are about to infiltrate from Iran.[15]

1896, June 1 - Van Uprising.[16]

1908, September 11 - According to information coming from Van to Erzurum, Armenian commission members are seeking safety with the Ottoman government.[17]

1912, May 16 - Armenians in Bulgaria stage a protest against what they think happened in Van and Bitlis.[18]

1913, May 16 - Ta?naksutyun and U?nçakyan commissions send telegraphs from Van to Sadaret and the Patriarch.[19]

1914, February 12 - 20 Armenian parliamentary deputy positions from the cities below are to be proposed by the Patriarch: 2 each from Istanbul, Erzurum, and Van, one each from Bitlis, Mu?, Harput, Sivas, ?zmir, Izmit, Kozan, Kayseriye, Karahisar-I ?arki, Tekfurdag?, Trabzon, Diyarbak?r, Haleb, and Amasya.

1914, October 22 - The 2nd Cavalry division commander reports to the Army headquarters that in Van, Mu? and Bitlis voluntary armed Armenian groups were gat¬hering, near the border posts armed Armenian groups were roaming the countryside and that there were 30-40 armed bandits around the village of Pertos.[20]

1914, October 29 – Divisional commander Kaz?n Bey’s secret code for Van uprising.[21]

1914, December 1 - Meeting with Armenian leaders for a possible uprising in van and the proposal for moving the population towards Bitlis due to Russian invasion.[22]

1914, December 4 - Gendarme commander KazIm Bey’s (Özalp) report about the Van uprising.[23]

1914, December 7-8 - Proposals made by the Erzurum Governor Tahsin Bey to deputy Commander in Chief Enver Pasha about a possible Van uprising.[24]

1915, February 18 - Armenians in the village of Esrisin, T?mar stage an uprising.[25]

1915, March 19 - Van Gendarme headquarter report on the Armenian attacks on military posts and soldiers.[26]

1915, April 10 - Armenian national Defense comity distributes a leaflet calling on all Armenians to attack Turks.[27]

1915, April 12 - An Armenian uprising in ?ifak.[28]

1915, April 15 - A large Armenian uprising in and around Van starts.[29]

1915, April 20 - A report from the governor of Van Cevdet bey about the uprising in Van.[30] Secret code from the governor of Van stating that the uprising in Van has widened.[31]

1915, April 21 - Armenians burn down Duyun-u Umumiye, the post office and the
Ottoman Bank.[32] Governor of Van Cendet Bey send a code under the heading, ext¬remely important and immediate.[33]

1915, April 23 - 1st Army commander Halil Bey reports that Armenians have attac¬ked and destroyed most public buildings in Van.[34] Interior Ministry demands the arrest of all those responsible, the closure of all Armenian Committees, seizure of all their documents and to send those deemed the heads of the uprising to military tribunals.[35] There is intense fighting between Turks and Armenians in Van.[36]

1915, April 24 - Armenians in Van shoot from the Churh of Peterpavies and when withdraw, they start shooting from Büyükcami Mosque.[37]

1915, April 26 - Armenians fire from Büyükkonak. Forces commanded by Nögalis back the place but their first attempt is unsuccessful.[38]

1915, April 27 - The conflict continues in all its intensity. Major Re?it Bey is killed.[39]

1915, April 28 - The second attempt to win back Buyükkanak is unsuccessful. [40]

1915, April 29 - Fighting continues.[41]

1915, April 30 - Fighting continues.[42]

1915, May 1 - Fighting continues.[43]

1915, May 2 - Fighting continues.[44]

1915, May 3 - Fighting continues.[45]

1915, May 4 - Hasankale Gendarme Captain Kaz?m Bey comes to Van.[46]

1915, May 9 - It was decided to send Armenian living in the environs of Van to the south. Included in this decision are Armenian living in South Erzurum and villages of Bitlis.[47]

1915, May 14 - Turks withdrew from Van.[48]

1915, May 16-17 - Russians take Van. Russians took and retook Van 5 times.

- 16-17 May Russians take Van August 10 - Turks retake it

- 15 August Russians retake Van     August 19 - Turks retake it

- 8 September Russians retake Van      September 11 - Turks retake it

- 13 September Russians retake Van     21 September Turks retake it

- 29 September Russians retake Van      2 April 1918 Turks retake it.

1915, May 23 - The moving of Armenians living in Erzurum, Van and Bitlis to Mosul, Zor and Urfa. Their security and transportation of their movable goods have to be guaranteed.[49]

1915, June 11 - Abraham, after getting caught, admits the real objective of the Russian and Armenian forces in the Tabriz, Aras and Van regions.[50]

19 15, June 27 - Population migrating from war zones are placed in the empty Ar¬menian villages.[51]

1916, June 4 - The statements and documents recorded after the massacres around Van perpetrated by Armenians and Russians became known.[52]

1916, June 17 - Armenian and Russian massacres of Turks during the taking of Van and Bitlis.[53]

1916, June 30 - Statement by Firdevs about the Russian and Armenian tortures on the Muslim population in Van and its environs.

1916, July 1 - Official documents from Mardin recoding the torture and massacre perpetrated by the Armenians on the Muslim population.[54]

1916, July 16 - Statements made by those who could get away from the massac¬res of Van and Beyazid.[55]

1916, September 15 - Statements made by those who could get away from the massacres of Van.[56]

1918, February 23 - 3rd Army report examining the massacres perpetrasted by Armenians in Adilcevaz, Ahlat, Van and Mamahatun regions.[57]

1920, October 16 — Atatürk’s reply to Bekir Sami Bey, who is in Moscow to sign an agreement with Soviet Russia, when Sami Bey tells him about the Russian demand to let Armenia have Van and Bitlis: ‘Neither the Parliament nor the Government will accept such a proposal, which based on any geographical, military or economic principle.’

[1] Nögalis, Hilal Alt?nda Dört Sene…(Four years under the crescent), p.20.
[2] Akçora, Ermeni ?syanlar?..., p.44.
[3] karacakaya, Kaynakçal? Ermeni Meselesi Kronolojisi (l878-l 92.3), (?stanbul: 2001), p.11.
[4] Karacakaya,.., p.14.
[5] Karacakaya,... p. 17.
[6] Karacakaya,.., p. 19.
[7] Karacakaya,.., p.20.
[8] Karacakaya..., p.26.
[9] Karacakaya,.., p.30.
[10] Karacakaya..., p.33.
[11] Karacakaya,... p.34.
[12] Karacakaya.... p.35.
[13] Karacakaya,.., p.36.
[14] Karacakaya,.., p.38.
[15] Karacakaya,.., p.40.
[16] Karacakaya,.., p.43.
[17] Karacakaya..., p.86.
[18] Karacakaya,.., p.90,
[19] Karacakaya,.., p.102.
[20] Karacakaya,.., p.107.
[21] ATBD, p.81. Doc:1812.
[22] Recep Karacakaya,.., p.107.
[23] ATBD, p.81, Doc:1813.
[24] ATBD, p.81, Doc:l814.
[25] Hocao?lu, Tarihte Ermeni Mezalimi ... p.622.
[26] ATBD, p.81, Doc:1821.
[27] Hocao?lu. Tarihte Ermeni Mezalimi ... p.6 16.
[28] Ilgaz, ?ark y?ld?z?, c.?., p.115.
[29] Russian General Mas?ofski says that the uprising started on the 14 April.(General Moslofski, Umumi Marpte Kafkas p.194-195)
[30] ATBD, p.81, Doc: 1826
[31] ATBD, p.81, Doc:1827
[32] Ilgaz, ?ark y?ld?z?, p.115.
[33] ATBD, p.82, Doc:1909.
[34] Nögalis, p.25.
[35] Nögalis. p.26.
[36] Nögalis, p.27,
[37] Nögalis. p.27-28.
[38] Nögalis, p.28.
[39] Nögalis, p.29.
[40] Nögalis. p.29.
[41] Nögalis, p.29.
[42] Nögalis, p.30.
[43] Nögalis, p.30.
[44] Nögalis. p.31.
[45] Nögalis. p.31.
[46] Nögalis. p.31.
[47] Karacakaya,.., p.111.
[48] Hocao?lu. Tarihte Ermeni Mezalimi ... p-632.
[49] Karacakaya,.., p.112.
[50] Karacakaya.... p.115.
[51] Karacakaya.... p.115.
[52] Karacakaya,.., p.130.
[53] Karacakaya,... p.130.
[54] Karacakaya,... p.131.
[55] Karacakaya,... p.131.
[56] Karacakaya,... p.132.
[57] Karacakaya,.., p.136.

- Art and Armenian Propaganda: Ararat as a Case Study
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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