Filmmaker Examines Genocide

by Sarah Probst

UW Badger Herald
Nov 12 2008

Over 90 years after its onset, the murder of over 1 million Armenians
by the Turks in the Armenian genocide in 1915 is still a contentious
issue — and it most certainly hasn’t been forgotten. Documentary
filmmaker Dr. Carla Garapedian made this clear Tuesday night during
a lecture where she addressed this issue head-on.

The event, sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Genocide Awareness
Week and the Armenian Students’ Association, featured a screening of
her documentary "Screamers," a bold glimpse at the gruesome nature
of genocide seen through the lens of the band System of a Down and
set to the soundtrack of their music.

"If you came to see the political issues, I’ve got to warn you about
the music," Garapedian warned. "If you came to hear the music, I’ve
got to warn you about the genocide images."

"Screamers," which has won three awards and been translated into
12 languages, shows members of System of a Down — all four men are
Armenian — as a politically charged unit set to educate lawmakers
and fans alike about the Armenian genocide. At one point in the
documentary, frontman Serj Tankian demands the Turkish government pay
for what it’s done, and the band launches into the song "P.L.U.C.K.,"
or politically lying, unholy, cowardly killers.

Although the documentary begins a political travel diary of the band’s
European tour, the film, released in 2006, eventually evolves into
a broader look at genocide, the tragedies that follow the already
horrific events and why the public has long had little knowledge
about the Armenian genocide in particular.

"The Armenian genocide is actually well-documented — we just don’t
have moving picture," Garapedian explained, acknowledging that videos
from the genocide in Darfur or the ethnic cleansing in Sarajevo have
increased the public’s awareness of these atrocities.

Despite the countless photographs, many world nations — including the
United States — have yet to acknowledge the atrocities that occurred
in Armenia in the early 1900s as actual acts of genocide. For many
countries, Garapedian explained, this is to protect the political
interests of certain countries; some nations may fear that, by
acknowledging the acts of another country as genocide, that country —
the U.S., for example — may be accused of war crimes.

Still, acknowledging any situation as genocide isn’t the end, and
Garapedian indicated there’s still a long road to travel before the
Armenian government may take steps toward doing so.

"[Dealing with genocide is] a process; it’s as if the perpetrators
(are) still going through the process of what’s done," Garapedian
said. "That hasn’t happened in Turkey."

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