Turkey’s Gag Rule on ‘Musa Dagh’ Film to be Explored at ANCA Grassroots

Filmmakers Edwin Avaness, Serj Minassians, Producers of “Epic Denied,” are Prominent additions to ANCA Grassroots ‘Film and the Arts’ Panel

GLENDALE—Efforts by famed director-producer Rouben Mamoulian to produce a feature film based on “Forty Days of Musa Dagh” and Turkish and State Department collusion to halt that production will be the focus of a presentation by Los Angeles-based filmmakers Edwin Avaness and Serj Minassians during the “Film and Arts” panel at the ANCA Grassroots Conference to take place Thanksgiving Weekend.

Through the presentation and discussion of their new film “Epic Denied,” Avaness and Minassians will shed light on Turkish and State Department collusion to force the hand of movie giant MGM to halt plans to produce the Franz Werfel epic novel for the theaters.

“Having Edwin and Serj on the panel will shed light on an important episode in our Armenian-American reality and highlight the lengths that Turkey and the State Department went to in perpetuating Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide,” said Ara Khachatourian, chairman of the ANCA Grassroots organizing committee.

“This topic is so current as the Armenian-American community has mounted a campaign to stop another of Turkey’s efforts to ‘gag’ the truth by forcing the White House to not allow the display of the Armenian Genocide ‘Orphan Rug’ at the Smithsonian,” added Khachatourian.

Edwin Avaness received his Master of Arts Degree from Northwestern University’s Radio-TV-Film Program, and his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film and Digital Media productions at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He then joined the executive board of the Armin T. Wegner Society of USA, where the society revives the legacy of the 20th Century humanist through his work. Avaness is a co-creator of the annual humanitarian award bestowed by the Armin T. Wegner Society unto filmmakers whose work advances social and human rights.

Avaness has worked on many projects, including: My Dark Days (2001); The Journey (2002), which was shot in Armenia with a full Armenian cast and crew; Tabriz: Images from the Forgotten World (2006), a docudrama which has garnered popular reception and awards during its tour of over ten film festivals; Virginty (2013), a film highlighting human rights issues; and Damn Foreigners (2014), a feature film based on a true story which highlights the instances of prejudice within the justice system of the United States.

Serj Minassians is a graduate of the Radio-TV-Film department from California State University, Northridge, where he produced and directed his award-winning senior project Stream of Social Intercourse (1990) which went on to win six major awards in various film festivals around the country. He joined the Armenian Film Society and became an active member; he then joined the Executive Board of the Arpa Foundation for Film Music and Art. Minassians is currently a board member of the Land and Culture Organization, an international organization which helps rebuild and preserve historic Armenian landmarks.

Minassians’ work includes: Beyond Commitment (1995), a documentary concerning the volunteers of the Land and Culture Organization; Golden Rose (2001), adapted from a short story by Aramais Hovsepian which tells the story of a lonely poet who is looking for one last chance at happiness; and The Journey (2002), which premiered at the Milan International Film festival and won the Audience Award.

Currently Avaness and Minassians are working on the documentary Epic Denied: Depriving the Forty Days of Musa Dagh (2015) which covers the trials and tribulations of Hollywood’s multiple attempts to produce an epic movie based on Franz Werfel’s bestseller novel.

The powerful duo will take their places at the ANCA Grassroots ‘Film and Arts’ panel alongside Los Angeles based music producer Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities, Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Bared Maronian, famed artist and comedian Vahe Berberian, and panel moderator Aram Kouyoumdjian, award-winning playwritght and, amongst others.

The successful ANCA Grassroots Conference will return on Thanksgiving Weekend, this time in the heart of Hollywood at Loews Hotel. The event brings together academicians, artists, historians, legal experts and political officials who will make presentations about varied topics regarding the myriad aspects of the pursuit of Hye Tad.

The conference is open to the community, but requires registration. Register now by visiting itsmyseat.com /ANCAWR or by calling 818.500.1918. To obtain updates on the conference, like the ANCA Western Region Facebook page at Facebook.com/ANCAWesternRegion or visit ancawr.org.

The ANCA Grassroots Conference will bookend the annual ANCA Gala Banquet, which will take place on Saturday, November 30 at the Roy Dolby Ballroom and will feature a special menu created for the banquet by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck.

This year’s honorees include, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Primate of Artsakh Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, Legendary Coach Jerry Tarkanian, Lifelong Philanthropist Manas Boujikian, Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian, and Activist and Filmmaker Ara Soudjian.

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.

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