“Who Killed the Armenians?”-Interview with one of the film’s creators Myriam Zaki

“Who Killed the Armenians?”-this is the title of the first Arabic-language documentary devoted to the Armenian Genocide that presents several archival photos and materials. The shootings took place in Armenia, Egypt and Lebanon. The film’s creators are Mr. and Mrs. Mohamad Hanafi and Myriam Zaki from Egypt. Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Myriam Zaki and found out certain details about the film.

-The film “Who Killed the Armenians?” is the first Arabic-language documentary devoted to the Armenian Genocide. What made you and Mohamad Hanafi  make such a film?

-I personally had only heard once about the Armenian Genocide when my History professor in College had suggested I write about it for a class paper. I did not at the time. Perhaps it was egocentrism of youth and the centric vision of the world that our part of the world largely shared. With the Arab Spring, I came to realize the interconnectedness of History as it related not only to my country, but to me. The Arab Spring is by no means a Spring to the Arab World, but for many of us, it has forced us to revise concepts and history. The courage to face one’s skeletons and correct the path is an introspection that should have taken place a long time ago. You May know that Egypt was semi autonomous from the Ottomans. Hence, they seemed irrelevant in our modern history books. And Egypt was self absorbed in its own processes post 1952. Studying the first Genocide in the History of the twentieth century has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate the role of the Ottoman Empire in the Arab lands and connect to the modern day period with a new understanding. In a nutshell, understanding the Armenian Genocide sheds a whole new understanding to the Arab Spring. It is time for Humanity and the Arab World to take a long hard look in the mirror and hopefully take concrete steps in correcting the path. This was our initial motive in studying the subject and making the film to introduce Arab audiences through the historical facts and documents to a Historical Reality that needs to be recognized and a path that needs to be faced with courage. To Mohamed and I, it is our common Humanity that binds us, and we dream of a world in which international politics reflect our moral values, as well as the values of the Egyptian people. We in Egypt abhor violence and bloodshed, injustice and deceit. We instinctively seek to unite with the divine, and thus, the Genocide of the Armenian people, which has been kept under so much silence, is an outrage to our humanity.

 -Could you provide us with some details about the film?

-The film looks at the overall history of the Armenian Genocide with documents that are revealed for the first time to the Arab audiences. We felt that the history has to be told and revealed-the history in general, though I must admit that each segment in that film deserves a film of its own. There was a time when our film seemed 2 hours long. We had to make it shorter. That was a challenge because the concepts and angles that needed to be tackled are of extreme importance in order to clarify the issue, and omitting any of it would seem like a reduction of the cause. I invite you to see the final outcome of the documentary. We are proud to have taken part in such a project, and we hope you enjoy it.

 -What difficulties did you face during production? Who helped you overcome them?

-We encountered many difficulties along the way, but no difficulty was a chore. Somehow everything flowed. It took us a little longer to finish the film than usual because Mohamed and I were responsible for a five-day live show that I was hosting alongside production. Certainly, the language barrier while conducting the interviews was a novelty because we had to wait for the translations in text or the simultaneous ones in order to grasp what is being said, which was time-consuming. Other than that, I must say that Dr. Armen Mazloumian and our Armenian friends were so smoothly patient and supportive every step of the way that no difficulty every seemed like a difficulty. It was more of a pleasure to be in such a warm atmosphere. I have to give credit and appreciation to all Armenians who opened their doors for us on every level with such grace. This is something that I will always cherish and never forget.

-How do you see the future of the film? What successes do you expect?

-We have very high hopes for this documentary. And I honestly dream of it reaching as many people as possible. I personally believe in the power of the Word and the sincerity of cause and emotion. It has a magical effect for change. Throw your intentions to the universe and let it be, rest, and it will simply magnify. That is why we have to work on our collective consciousness and moral values, with the insight of creating a better place for our children. It is an immense responsibility once we realize what it really means. God bless you, and thank you so much for this opportunity.


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