Starring: Simon Abkarian, Angela Sarafyan, Sam Page, Nikolai Kinski, Jim Piddock, Debra Christofferson, Sunny Suljic
Directed By: Garin Hovannisian, Alec Mouhibian
Written By: Garin Hovannisian, Alec Mouhibian
Rating: NR (US) Running Time: 1 hr 22 min
Let me ask you a question. How often do you hear or think about the holocaust? Probably not everyday right? But the details of those events are discussed and portrayed with enough frequency in our theaters, that the record of those atrocities is widely understood and remembered. Now, let me ask you another question. How often do you hear or think about the Armenian Genocide? Was this the first time in a while? Or just the first time?
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
– Adolf Hitler (Aug 22nd, 1939)
Starting in 1915, the Ottoman Empire began exterminating its minority Armenian population in what is now the Republic of Turkey, killing an estimated 1.5 million men, women, and children. Which has been accurately described as a genocide, though to this day the Turkish government disputes that definition. And even this year, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Pope Francis used the term in a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the massacre.
1915, marks the centennial of the Armenian genocide in the abstract, as it cleverly weaves a story of personal loss, with the collective grief of those tragic events 100 years ago. A dark haunting piece from first time writers/directors, Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian, that nicely balances time between a superbly acted and touching personal story, with the historical responsibility to educate its audience about those tragic events. And while the latter goal lacks focus on specific details, the film certainly should prompt its audience to study the subject once they leave the theater – as it did with me.
This is a dark moody piece, shot mostly inside the dimly lit halls, rooms and stage of The Los Angeles Theater. It is unrated, but I would guess a PG-13 rating would apply, as the film covers some adult themes, but spares the viewer graphic depictions of the genocide.
The Los Angeles Theater is beautiful, and Leigh Lisbão Underwood’s photography certainly captures that perfectly. It also turns the theater into an extra character in the story. Almost like a place of worship, where past sins are explored and judgment is passed. This movie is best enjoyed in the theaters. Failing that, a screening at home in HD is your next best option.
Best Moment: << spoiler >>
I really loved the seamless transition made as Simon (Simon Abkarian) leaves the theater carrying the young boy Gabriel (Sunny Suljic) past the crowds protesting the stage play. As he walks, the protesters eventually become a line being herded by Ottoman soldiers, and the setting moves away from present day Los Angeles.