film takes a position that this (genocide) is an absolutely irrefutable event.
I cannot in any way and wouldn't want to create a work which raises issues
about whether or not it happened," (Director Atom) Egoyan told Reuters in
an interview Friday.
"I cannot extend in this film, or raise the question that there is
another side that can be taken seriously. It's just against my upbringing and
my responsibility. It would be irresponsible to do that."
says Armenian genocide irrefutable"
Reuters/Variety, September 6(?), 2002
Egoyan's film provided a major incentive for me to get going with this web
site, which I had been dragging my feet on for three years. I recall coming
across an Internet page with a list of commentaries throughout the United
States and Canada, when the film was beginning to make the pre-release rounds ...
and the universal parroting of Armenian claims in the
American media was really an eye-opener. (Not the fact that the American media
would be sympathetic to the Armenians... nothing new there; just that many of
these "independent newspaper" reports resembled each other, almost
word-for-word.) Whenever there would be an attempt to present the Other Side
of the Falsified Genocide, it would usually be preceded by the disclaimer and
code for "not-to-be-trusted," The Turkish government says....
|Bracing for the Cinema's Judgment
By RAY CONLOGUE
The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 – Print Edition, Page R2
Atom Egoyan's film Ararat, which deals with the question of the "Armenian
genocide," will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The Toronto director has said
he does not want the film to be politicized. He has also, however, said that he believes
there was an Armenian genocide.
This is a little like a property developer piously hoping that nobody will perceive his
100-storey skyscraper as a large building.
Nobody disagrees that Turks slaughtered Armenians in the eastern province of Anatolia in
1915. The Turks admit that soldiers and vigilantes killed up to a half-million Armenians.
Armenians say it was more like 1.5 million.
The problem is the naming of this atrocity. A few years after it occurred, Winston
Churchill used the word "holocaust" to describe it. American diplomats on the
ground were stunned by the ferocity of the Turks. It was, at the time, an event without
Surviving Armenians went to Europe and America where, as Christians attacked by Muslims,
they were sympathetically received. Later they insisted the Ottomans had committed a
genocide parallel with the Nazi extermination of Europe's Jews.
The Turks have never accepted this. They say the Armenians allied themselves with Russia
and took up arms against their own government. They were fairly deported, but then
attacked by rogue units of the Turkish army. However, large Armenian populations in
Istanbul and other cities, where the government could protect them, were not harmed.
Here's the situation today: Everything the Turks say, the Armenians call a lie. And vice
versa. Dissenters may exist on either side, but they're keeping their heads down. During
20 years up to 1980, Armenian terrorists killed 70 Turkish diplomats in an attempt to
force Turkey to admit to genocide. Turkey, meanwhile, has damaged its credibility by
refusing to answer European charges of current atrocities against civilians in Cyprus and
its minority Kurdish population.
"Scholars agree," says Britannica Online with typical sang froid,"that
propaganda from both sides has greatly confounded the issue."
Nonetheless, some recent research supports the Turkish view. American historians like
Bernard Lewis (who once accepted the Armenian view) and Justin McCarthy now say there is
no evidence of a planned genocide, and that Armenians at the time also slaughtered large
numbers of Turks. They have been seriously harassed for expressing this view.
I personally remain agnostic. But I am sympathetic to the Turks'
inability to get their point of view before the public. By and large they don't speak
English, and are, of course, Muslims, the objects of centuries of racism.
A few weeks ago I spoke to Murat Birsel, a newspaper columnist in Istanbul, and we agreed
to publish my e-mail address so I could get the feelings of ordinary Turks about Egoyan's
film. Some 200 letters arrived, most in broken English but some highly articulate. About
half were copied from a master text, and these I discarded.
Most struggled to be dignified even while expressing the belief that Turks are not treated
as fully human in the West. "This problem is still searching by historians,"
writes Necati Isel from Denizli. "But even if Armenians say the truth, many Turkish
soldier died too. Weren't they humans? Armenians always forget that. In the war years,
they hit us [from] behind."
"On my visits to many European countries, I have seen many statues who express
Western people's hate for us," writes Murat Seyisoglu. "It can be explained and
I do not mean that every Western people hates the Turks. [But] ask to your friends,
'describe a Turk image.' And listen . . . they will describe us with great moustache, wear
ancient things, rides a camel, holds a sword. I have faced with that image . . . many
A 17-year-old girl, Fulya, wrote: "Mr. Egoyan I want to ask you if this event had
happened in your history and if you were accused of such a thing what would you do? Please
be honest and think this."
A few recalled family memories of Anatolia in 1915. "I've heard from my grandmother
how they were terrified in Erzurum when the Armenian riots started," writes
52-year-old Selma Aslan. "Anatolia has been a cradle to so many different peoples . .
. that it is really hard to say that a part of it belongs to this or that people."
What of Armenians in Turkey today? Describing a Survivor-type reality program on Turkish
TV, Hamide Erdem wrote: "Two months ago, the winner of this program was an Armenian
young man who is selected by MILLIONS of Turkish people. Everyone knew he was Armenian and
he was not a Muslim. And nobody cared."
Others fear the power of cinema. "The common man has always been more responsive to
cultural myths than to hard facts," writes [name withheld
by request-HW]. Adds Yusuf Gorgec: "Turkish people don't like to create false
problems and then make movies about them to become famous. [We] . . . actually lived the
torture of an invasion during World War I. We keep it as an old grief in our hearts. We
don't like to . . . use it to be famous."
For 20 years, Turkey has banned the film Midnight Express,which arguably uses stereotypes
to present Turks as monsters. A surprising number of correspondents admire Egoyan and want
to believe he would not make such a movie. "To me, Mr. Egoyan is a great
artist," writes Mehmet Ali Elik. "I don't think that he will assert Ottomans as
Others are less certain. Alleged copies of the film's script have circulated in Turkey.
"Since this picture includes many disgusting statements about Turkish people, I hope
you will try to learn the truths about this occasion," writes Fatih Kaskaya.
"Sixty-five million pairs [of] eyes will look at you.'
This article is from armenianreality.com
"Ararat ... is
one bad movie"
Bob Grimm, Las Vegas Mercury, February 20, 2003
Re: Bracing for Cinema's Judgement by Ray Conlogue (May 15): I have steadfasly tried to
prevent my film Ararat from being made into a political tool. And now, days before its
premiere in Cannes, Mr. Conlogue has written an article that is breathtakingly
irresponsible and provocative.
The denial of genocide is the final stage of this atrocious act. Mr. Conlogue's article is
an example of how easy it can be to demonize a victim and rehabilitate the perpetrator. I
am saddened that a professional jounalist can question the reality of a genocide that
Holocaust scholars including Elie Wiesel affirm as an "incontestable fact."
What saddens me is this letter; I entertained the notion that Mr. Egoyan might not have
been a maniac on the matter, even though, of course, as an Armenian he has an
"obligation" to support the Armenian claims. However, this is the first time
I've run into his sounding somewhat militant on the issue.
Man! Is he being
disingenuous when he writes, "I have steadfas(t)ly tried to
prevent my film Ararat from being made into a political tool."
When you're a somewhat militant Armenian filmmaker one-sidedly depicting the Armenian
"Genocide," what is that BUT a political tool?
Is the director
suggesting there is no room for debate, because Elie Wiesel has offered his opinion? Especially regarding such an
infamously debated topic as the Armenian "genocide"?? What an appalling and
ethnocentric notion. And exactly what was so irresponsible about Ray Conlogue's article?
He offers seldom heard truths, such as ' ...Turks' inability to get their point of view
before the public' and 'Moslems, the objects of centuries of racism...' Bravo to the
journalist for his refreshing objectivity, and for being the rare Western reporter not
falling into the trap of blindly parroting everything the Armenians
put forth. One reason why Atom Egoyan, like nearly all Armenians, got incensed is because
someone broke the rule by publicly stating a viewpoint not perfectly in accordance to
I liked Professor Yuruk
Iyriboz's view on the article's Churchill
"We were indeed not surprised to hear that Mr. Churchill used the word 'holocaust'
since we also heard him saying 'We destroyed just a few radio stations..' after (the)
bombing of Hamburg when 150,000 lives were lost. It must have been one of his days
afflicted with ethanol. Was it again ethanol which kept him and his associates so quiet
when they knew the real holocaust was coming(?)"
Art as a Tool in Propaganda
Armenian cinema and politics
The Armenian cinema in particular has focused on the so-called genocide and has
helped to shape the national identity of the Armenian youth with Anti-Turkish
elements. Verneuil's "Mayrig", Dovlatyan's "The Yearning" and
Hrayr Toukhanian's "Assignment
Berlin " are just some examples. Most of these films failed in terms of art
and financial figures, yet their political influence made their directors famous (if
not heroes) in the eyes of the Armenian youth. The most recent example is Atom
Egoyan's film, "Ararat".
Aznavour in Cannes
Atom Egoyan is an Egypt-born Canadian Armenian film director, who
has lived in Canada since childhood. In other words, he is a diaspora Armenian and
has deeply felt the assimilation threat during his early age. He even refused to
speak Armenian and made efforts to be a "pure Canadian" until his college
years when he realized that to be an Armenian means to fight against the
"Turkish deniers". In other words, Egoyan is an "identity
convert". Converts are generally more radical and they tend to exaggerate the
facts in order to legitimize the revolutionary shift in their way of life. Egoyan is
no exception and after his college years, he fanatically advocated the historical
Armenian claims. Ararat is the latest example of his radicalism.
Egoyan argues that he questioned the hatred
among the Armenians and its reasons in his film. However, it was obvious in the
Cannes premier that Egoyan has succumb to communal pressure from the diaspora
Armenians and has chosen the simplest way to make a film by accusing "the
others", namely the Turks, as responsible for all the terrible things the
Armenians have confronted.
Egoyan claims that the scenario is based on historical facts and archival documents,
though he has never mentioned any document or proof, just beliefs and prejudiced
ideas. As a matter of fact, neither he nor any member of the film crew is a
historian and Atom Egoyan refused to make a history film when asked to do so before
Egoyan in his film accuses the Turks of
massacring Armenian women, children and men with no real reason. For Ararat, Turks
committed genocide against Armenians because they hated them, and Turkish hatred
created hatred among Armenians. Obviously Egoyan has no proof for his accusations,
if not insults to a whole nation, but he does not actually need any proof (!)
because he has a "poetic license", like the director of the film within
his film. The 1915 Van Uprising, as mentioned, is well documented by the Ottoman and
foreign observers and none of the documents draw such a picture as Egoyan does in
his history-film (!). As a matter of fact, many scenes in Ararat contradict other
parts of the film. On the one hand, it is argued that the Armenians made a peaceful
defense; on the other hand the scenes show well-armed Armenian military forces. In
the film, the Van uprising is "the heroic defense of Van" (Film's Script,
54. Ext. Van), yet the director does not question why the Turks attempted to
reoccupy their own territory with a mainly Muslim population. The reality is the
armed Armenian military forces backed by the Russian army had occupied the province
of massacred thousands of Turks and Kurds while thousands more civilians fled to
other provinces to save their lives. The Armenian forces were led by the
revolutionary and nationalist Armenian bandits and they dreamed of an independent
Armenia under the Russian support. They were waiting for the Russian troops to help
them against the Ottoman security forces and in a few weeks the Russian troops came
to the province. Before the Russians came, all of the Muslim quarter of the city was
set on fire by Armenian bandits.
Turkish-Armenian relations is one of the most problematic relations in the world
despite the fact that both nations need each other. The main problem in the
relations is not the facts but the perceptions. The Armenians believe in a legacy
which they created themselves and the radicals nourish the hatred among the
Armenians. On the other hand, the Turks do not give enough attention to the Armenian
issue by underestimating its importance for Turkey and the region. Both sides accuse
each other and nobody listens to the other. Under these circumstances the Armenian
and Turkish artists have a great tool to destroy the prejudices and illusions
regarding the other side. Atom Egoyan was one of these "lucky" men yet he
did not use the opportunity and transferred the problem to future generations
As a result, it can be argued that Ararat is a masterpiece propaganda film directed
by a talented and radical-nationalist Armenian director, financed by Armenian lobby
groups and supported by Armenian Culture Ministry. It is a film well-packed with
cinematic tricks, but it is not impossible to see the director's hatred behind the
Sedat Laçiner is an assistant professor at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University and
the Asam Institute for Armenian Research, Ankara
Turkish Daily News
(To read the whole article, go to armenianreality.com)
ARARAT by One of Turkey's Top TV Journalists
FALL OF THE ARARAT
At my last night in America, I watched the movie Ararat of Atom Egoyan. My daughter Ayse
and I went to the cinema next to the Harvard University in Boston. Although we were in the
middle of the intellectual world, there were only 10 people in the movie theater, which
had a capacity of 600 people.
A friend of mine, who went to see the movie the night before, said that there were six
people, two Turks and four Armenians.
It is no doubt that the film, which was distributed by Miramax and cost 16 million
dollars, is a complete fiasco in commercial terms. Although the Armenian institutions and
churches in the vicinity of Boston are giving out free tickets, they are unable to draw
people to the theater.
Because, the film is bad in cinematic
terms. It is a film of a beginner, which tries to explain too many things at the same time
but it is impossible to understand what it means, consists of interrupted scenes, and
involves absurd points making one say “Come on, this is rubbish!”. It is impossible to
bear it for those American viewers who do not have a special interest in the
Charles Aznavour (Shahnour Varenagh
Aznavurjian) in a scene from
ARARAT... a long way from his
fabulous appearance in Truffaut's
SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER. Leonard
Maltin, on Aznavour: "He often
suggests an adult Charlie Brown."
The so-called historical works are not convincing at all; in fact they are like
pantomimes. Armenians living in Van in 1915 appear in European style dresses made of best
fabrics, as if they are in a fashion show, and they reveal the ignorance of Egoyan about
the situation in Anatolia.
Egoyan is trying to avoid accusations of racism by showing the “brutality of Turks” in
the form of a film in another film, i.e. as a second-hand production, but I believe that
his shrewdness does not work. My face turned red while I was watching the scenes and
curses about Turks and I thought,
“No, no one including Egoyan has the right to insult another people in such a bigoted
In an article I had written about a year ago, I had argued that it would be more
appropriate to wait and see the film “Ararat” instead of condemning it in a prejudiced
manner. Now, I know the answers to the questions I had asked in that article. I had stated
“Pains are, of course, among the best materials of an artist. I mean, we cannot blame
Atom Egoyan, who is of Armenian origin and was born in 1960, for making a film about that
period. But we can ask this question: How is the film? (It is a bad and boring film)
Is it a film which honestly gets even with a historical period full of severe pains and
gets deep into the sorrows of one side while pretending not to see those of the other?
(Yes, exactly. It is a film which does not want to understand that all those terrible
scenes could be made by the other side and various horrifying materials could be found in
the archives that would infuriate both sides.)
Is it a racist film which shamelessly shows all the people of the other side as inhuman
creatures as in “Midnight Express”, and curses at them? (Unfortunately it is. Egoyan
makes a Turkish figure in the film say that Armenians belong to a superior race when
compared to Turks.)
Is it a film which adds new pains to those present and incites feelings of hatred by
reviving the sense of grudge and revenge? (Exactly. Armenians watching this film will hate
all the Turks. On the other hand, Turks watching the film will bear all the Armenians a
grudge for the insults they are subject to. Is this the message that art should give?)
Or is it a film brave enough deep inside to take the risk of forgiving and making peace as
a humane feeling? (No, it is an immoral film which takes shelter by those who are shrewd,
so as to avoid to pay the price for the insults it has made. It is a coward[ly] film.)
The Newspaper Radical
December 20, 2002
Haluk Sahin's on-the-button views regarding Midnight Express
ARAFAT Observations by a Turkish Commentator
Ararat is a carefully designed and crafted film,
as part of a larger strategy Armenian organizations have been working in order to
prove their hypothesis of the so-called "Armenian genocide". The film will
be used as a tool by Armenian activists to receive support from the decision-making
mechanisms in the world and to mobilize them against Turks, at a time when important
decisions are waiting to be taken in Europe regarding Turkey's application to join
the European Union.
Even back in May, pro-Armenian MP's in the Canadian Parliament were referring to the
film 6 months before its public release, during the usual annual discussion for
acceptance of the Armenian genocide claims. The President of Armenian National
Committee were promoting the film during TV debates in April.
From an artistic perspective, Ararat is a skillfully crafted, powerful film
exhibiting the artistic brilliance of its director Atom Egoyan.
However, the following are some of the falsifications, exaggerations, distortions
and symbolisms used in the film to prove an Armenian genocide existed, together with
some facts and counter arguments for the Turkish Community to use in response when
subjected, invariably, to accusations and negative remarks against the Turks, after
the film's public release in
1.. Throughout the film " Armenian genocide" is talked about as if it were
a fact. It mentions at one point the "systematic and planned genocide by the
Turkish Government"!. These are carefully selected words to justify the
genocide claim, by definition. The film inside the film passes in Van in April 1915.
The image created in one's mind is that Van was an Armenian
city and the powerful Turkish army, with their modern weaponry, has out-numbered and
out-gunned the limited Armenian men trying to defend their city. Turks kill all the
men, occupy the city, rape, torture and kill the women and children and deport them.
There are some horrific
The events are not put into the historical context as is never done by Armenian
activists. The fact is that the period is during the First World War. The Ottoman
army is spread thin, fighting the enemy on three fronts:
The allied forces in the west at Gallipoli and
Dardanelles; the Russians in the east and the British in the south at the middle
east. Van was not an Armenian city; more Muslims lived in the city than Armenians.
The Armenians revolted in Van at the beginning of the WW1 with the assistance
of the Russians and massacred thousands of the Muslim population. The Muslim
population lost in Van Province between 1912 - 1922 was 194,167. (Death and Exile,
Prof. Justin McCarthy).
of Mount Ararat, from Yerevan; from an Armenian travel site.
The film creates the image that Armenians were loyal and law-abiding citizens when
in one scene the Armenians say that "they were the citizens of the empire and
that the Turks should protect them rather than having war with them". The
unsuspecting viewer thinks that the Turks were fighting the Armenians, not the
Russians. There is no mention of the Russians anywhere in the film and obviously no
mention of the fact that Armenians were assisting the enemy, acting in high treason
against the empire they were the citizens of.
2.. Raffi's father in the film, was an Armenian Terrorist and had died in one of the
attacks on the Turkish Diplomats between 1973 and 1986.
The film justifies the Armenian terrorism using the cliché that they were
"freedom fighters". It sympathizes with the terrorists' hatred toward
Turks because of the so-called "genocide" they perpetrated on the
Armenians!. By the same argument, we can justify the 19 terrorists who rammed the
airplanes into the WTC Towers and the Pentagon, as well as Osama bin Laden as
freedom fighters because they hated the Americans.
3.. At one scene in the film, Armenians ask "Why do Turks hate us?".
This is another carefully planned message to justify genocide claim. The impression
given is that Turks hated Armenians and killed them just because they were Armenians
- genocide by definition.
Turks never hated Armenians and still don't. In the Turkish education system based
on Ataturk's principles, hatred of any ethnic or religious group is never taught.
However, Armenian diaspora teaches their children hatred towards Turks, in their
schools, churches and community centres. The Armenian youth who were born 30 - 40
years after the so-called genocide and who grew up being brainwashed into hating
Turks were responsible for the murder of 44 innocent Turkish Diplomats between 1973
and 1986. The contradiction in the film is that the Armenian hatred of Turks is
justified as a cause for the murder of the Turkish Diplomats more than 60 years
after the so-called "genocide" and the Armenians who commit them are
4.. The film plays the good Christian evil Muslim card skillfully. There are
numerous symbolisms in the film about the Madonna and Christ / mother and son
concept in Christianity. The film is all about a mother and son in Van in 1915 and a
mother and son in Toronto nowadays. Several scenes in the film zoom on one
particular sculpture on the walls of the Akdamar Church on Lake Van depicting Virgin
Mary holding Jesus Christ in her arms.
The mother in Van, before dying in 1915 in his hands, tells his young son that
"he should not forget his language, he should not forget his religion and he
should not forget what happened in 1915 to the Armenians in Turkey and should always
keep it on the agenda". This is a powerful message. There is also a scene where
a small child in Toronto wanders why his father's Turkish friend doesn't pray before
meals like good Christians do. It is because he has a different god!.
These subliminal messages cause the viewers to identify with the Armenians and evoke
sympathy towards them.
5.. An Armenian propaganda film obviously cannot exist without reference to Hitler's
famous quotation! This remark, which has been planted into the speeches of every
pro-Armenian politician in the U.S. and Canadian Parliaments, by Armenian activists
during the "Armenian genocide" debates in the last 15 years, is proven to
be a falsification by academicians. Hitler has never said "who remembers the
extermination of the Armenians" and used it as a justification before killing
the Jews. However, the Armenian activists want to cash in on the world's sentiments
towards the Jewish Holocaust, by having them believe that Hitler's excuse for
killing the Jews was that nobody reacted to the Armenian genocide by Turks!
Armenians always want to draw parallels with the fate of the Jews and themselves in
order to win in the public opinion.
6.. Mt. Ararat symbolizes the link between the Armenian identity and their
"desired ancestral lands". Edward (Charles Aznavour) verbalizes this by
saying in the film "when I was a boy my mother used to tell me Mt. Ararat was
ours, even though it was far away. I used to dream of a way to approach it, to make
it belong to who I was to who I became. Will this film (the film inside the film)
bring us closer". The fruit pomegranate is also used skillfully in the film as
a symbol giving the message to the Armenians that there is always a way out of tough
situations, if you
have the necessary tools and if you can play the game according to its rules.
All you need is patience and smartness. The film is attempting to give hope and
optimism to the Armenians who have been striving to reach the final goal. They are
now playing the game according to the rules of democracy in the North American and
European Parliaments. We know the final goal is reached in four phases: 1.. Force
Turkey to accept the "Armenian genocide" 2.. Force Turkey to apologize
from the Armenians 3.. Force Turkey to pay retribution 4.. Annex eastern Turkey into
Armenia Eastern Turkey is Western Armenia, today in the constitution of the State of
7. The film is full of classical stereotyping against Turks and showing Armenians in
a positive way. Armenians in the film are intellectual, artistically talented,
smart, elegant, attractive. Turks are brutal, senseless, ambivalent and gay. Turks
also deal with drugs and bribery. Similar messages were given in Midnight Express
8. The message given is that because the film was based on a book written by
Clarence Ussher, an American, it must be reliable and historically correct. This is
the proof of "Armenian genocide".
Mr. Ussher was a Protestant missionary in Van in 1915. The Armenian campaign of the
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was their most
successful missionary campaign. This campaign collected $116,000,000 based on the
propaganda of slaughter of Christians by evil Turks (Muslims). If one calculates
this in today's money, this would be the most successful private charity campaign in
U.S. history. Mr. Ussher wrote his book on 1917 in Boston and published it before
the U.S. entered the war. It was in the missionaries' interest to write a propaganda
book depicting only the Armenian suffering, ignoring completely the Muslim deaths
and suffering. The raising of funds depended on helping Armenian victims. The more
the victims, the more the funds.
9. In one part of the film inside the film the director creates a scene where Mt.
Ararat can be seen from Van. When the impossibility of this is pointed out to him,
he answers it was "poetic license". Throughout the film Atom Egoyan uses
his poetic license to exaggerate, falsify and distort historical events to make his
point regarding genocide.
September 1, 2002