The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region announced on Friday that it will honor filmmaker and activist Ara Soudjian with the “Vahan Cardashian” Award at its annual banquet, taking place on Saturday, November 30 in Hollywood, California.
“You Reap What You Sow.” It’s an idiom most widely used to describe the basic nature of God’s justice, but equally applicable when used to assess the abundant contributions of innovative individuals who have been educated, cultivated, and empowered by the vibrant Armenian community within which they were brought up. Ara Soudjian is a shining example of a product of the community in which he was raised; a diasporan-born who attended Armenian schools throughout his life and was actively involved as a young boy and teenager in the Armenian Youth Federation’s Roupen Chapter in Glendale. What’s most commendable about his journey is that despite his success and personal ambitions, Ara never hesitated to assist his community and serve its needs whenever they called upon him – all in the name of further advancing the Armenian Cause. As fate would have it, it was through his involvement in AYF as a teenager that Ara met his wife Garinee Soudjian.
Ara was born in Los Angeles on December 17, 1976 to Maurice and Ruth Soudjian. His parents, understanding well the importance of instilling in their children the experience of a “second Armenian family” that only an Armenian school could provide, enrolled Ara in Mekhitarian Armenian School, Vahan & Anoush Chamlian, and Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, from which he graduated high school in 1994.
Thereafter, Ara went on to major in Radio, Television and Film Production at California State University Northridge, earning his degree in 1999. Although he earned his formal education in film and media in university, Ara credits his vast knowledge and hands-on training in film to his involvement with then-ANC TV’s weekly news show, which he helped establish and run from its inception. Through his work at ANC TV, the community was kept up to date on a diverse range of topics, including current events and news from the homeland and Diaspora, as well as the various outreach and advocacy work of the ANC on both national and international levels.
After garnering firsthand experience at ANC TV, Ara went on to build a vibrant career for himself in Hollywood specializing in digital media. He participated in the making of such films as “13 Going on 30,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Intolerable Cruelty,” and “The Ring 2.” His talent as a director is evident in his creative vision, which has earned him several awards and a reputable role in the commercial and music video industry. His clientele includes Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, Gatorade, Ralph’s, Expo Line, Metro and Rock the Vote, to name a few. He has also directed reality TV pilots for Fox and Sony Television. His music videos for hip hop artist Wiz Khalifa and Grammy award winning singer Serj Tankian of System of a Down earned him two MVPA awards. In 2010, he directed and produced a short film, “A Nice Old-Fashioned Romance” based on William Saroyan’s short story with the same title, which premiered at the prestigious LA Shorts Festival.
In addition to being a rising star in cinema, television, and film in his professional career, Ara has never passed up an opportunity to lend his talents to further enhance the Armenian community’s objectives through such organizations as the ANCA. It is through Ara’s work in film and media over the past decade that the ANCA-WR’s projects, branding, messaging, internship programs, as well as the national office’s Capital Gateway Program and Leo Sarkissian Internship program have been widely exposed to ANCA supporters and to outside constituents. Much of his work on film has lent itself to be packaged and produced in the form of DVD’s, videos, and You Tube segments, which are marketed and disseminated throughout the world.
Ara has also been crucial in directing and filming ANCA’s “Get Out The Vote” videos. He has consistently worked hard to produce campaign videos for political candidates which the ANCA has endorsed or supported, including Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Eric Garcetti, Councilman Paul Krekorian, Rafi Manoukian, and Ardashes Ardy Kassakhian, to name a few. Through his work on such campaigns, he has assisted the ANCA in disseminating its political voice. Year after year, Ara produces and films the ANCA-WR’s Annual Banquet video, which summarizes the year of accomplishments for the region’s active involvement in the global struggle for Armenian Genocide recognition.
Several years ago, Ara assisted in digitally documenting and archiving the testimony of Armenian Genocide survivors with his work on the “Genocide Project.” Through such projects, Ara helped educate the generations past, present, and future about the history of the Armenian Genocide. Ara’s activism has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian recognized the contributions of Ara’s community activism, as well as others, during the Commemoration of the 97th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at Los Angeles City Hall.
“The Vahan Cardashian award is given to an activist who unrelentingly strives for the advancement of Hye Tahd,” stated Aida Dimejian, co-chair of the ANCA-WR’s 2013 Annual Banquet. “Ara is a true example of what Vahan Cardashian stood for. Through his creative work, he has been and continues to be one of the champions of our cause. His video productions have educated, activated, and motivated our activists both young and old in the spirit of his first film company’s name ‘Treaty of Sevres’,” concluded Dimejian.
“Ara has made great strides and contributions to Hye Tahd through his work in the entertainment and media industry,” added Sareen Bezdikian, Esq., co-chair of the banquet. She continued, “As one of our very own activists, he has used his creativity and talent to capture the ANCA’s accomplishments on the local, state, and national levels and projected those accolades into the mass media for global consumption, playing a pivotal role in placing the ANCA brand on the public’s agenda.”
The ANCA-WR banquet will take place on November 30 at The Ray Dolby Ballroom, the site of the Oscar’s Governors’ Ball. Legendary chef Wolfgang Puck will be catering a special menu for the ANCA-WR Banquet. Individuals interested in attending the banquet and Grassroots Conference are encouraged to contact the ANCA-WR office at (818) 500-1918 or purchase tickets online at ItsMySeat.com/ANCAWR.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.