Essam Nagy’s documentary “In The Beginning Was Armenia” (Interview)

In 2017, Essam Nagy traveled to Armenia to start a three-part documentary project called “In The Beginning Was Armenia.”

Azad-Hye Special. Interviewer: Hrach Kalsahakian

The documentary was released in January 2020, and it immediately captured the attention of the viewers.

Already the first episode is available online. The remaining two parts will be available soon.

Azad-Hye had this online interview with Essam Nagy:

It is evident that very detailed research has been done for this work. How can you describe your relationship with the Armenians and Armenia before and after the documentary?

The research for “In The Beginning Was Armenia” started in 2017, before my first trip to Armenia, but the idea of making something about this unique land was in my mind since I met “Levon,” the one who introduced me to Armenia and to its history years ago.

The docu-drama part at the beginning of Part 1 of the series (“The Khatchkar Maker“) is based on a true story, and since that time I felt – now as a journalist and documentary filmmaker – the urge and the immediacy of telling the world, especially the Arab speaking nations, the story of Armenia, inspired by the encounter I had with Levon, and within the second and the third part of the documentary, you will find more about this story.

About my relationship before and after filming, well, I believe that my story with Armenia is far from over; in fact, it is only starting.

Armenia for me, before my visit there, was enshrined in a veil of mystery and sanctification, the thing that I personally touched when I was there.

The blend of the ancient, yet revived, richness of the Armenian history with the pinch of modernism in cosmopolitan Yerevan, balanced with the unique character that the Armenians posses (both in motherland and Diaspora) weave a beautiful tapestry that is solely Armenian.

With this understanding, I started to see the Armenian communities, inside and outside the Motherland in a more profound way, that they both complement one another.

Unfortunately, the religious element is playing a significant role in shaping public opinion in the Arab World. Do you think the fact that most Armenians are Christian can be an obstacle to developing natural and healthy relations between Armenia and the Arab World?

On the contrary, I find Christian Armenia a beacon of light in the midst of the turbulent Middle and Near East, for two reasons:

1- Armenia and its identity as the first Christian nation, cannot be easily separated from each other; they are weaved and mixed together.

2- The region we are living in needs this kind of healthy diversity, even if it is still far from being achieved, and I mean by that, the state of accepting the other, but I can see Armenia – this Christian nation – is setting an excellent example of living in a multicultural community, by having Muslims, Yazidis and Jews living on one soil regardless of what the Armenians went through in their history.

You have been documenting several countries. How do you describe your association with Armenia, compared with the other places you have covered thus far?

Armenia is a great nation, and I believe the time has come to expose both the beauty of it and the genuine qualities of its people, both in the motherland and in Diaspora.

Armenia has played (and still playing) a pivotal role in my life, that was the driving force for me to make this series which are a part of an international project that has covered the story of four other nations, but after finishing the first season of filming, I see that Hayastan [the name Armenians call their country] is the dearest to my heart.

End of the interview.

Essam Nagy has thanked all those who were involved in the project. He said on his Facebook page: “I want to thank all those who helped in making this documentary series a reality. Thanks, Imed Dabbour for trusting me with “In The Beginning Was Armenia,” for Johnny Jalek, my dear friend, in managing the project, Roy Abou Khalil for the fantastic shots and compositions, Garo Margossian for all the efforts in coordinating the project with Armenia, Dany Abi Rached for unlimited hours of hard work in editing and graphics, Andrew Gamal for outstanding dubbing and audio mixing, Ramez Atef for his incomparable talent in color grading, Magdoline Nader in post-production organizing, for the whole team in LighthouseAW for the dedication and support.”
Trailer for Armenia Part 2 | Sons of Fire & Roses Promo

Where to find the people involved in this project:

Essam Nagy

Facebook page for the journeys made be Essam Nagy

Imed Dabbour
TV host at ‎Télévision Tunisienne
CEO at Lighthouse AW

Johnny Jalek
Managing Director, Beirut Office of Lighthouse AW

Roy Abou Khalil

Garo Margossian
Armenia Project Coordinator at Lighthouse AW

Dany Abi Rached
Editing and Graphics

Andrew Gamal
Dubbing and Audio-mixing

Ramez Atef
Color Grading

Magdoline Nader
Post Production Organizing