“I Hate Dogs” (2005) was displayed in Sharjah, followed by a presentation by the Director Suzanne Khardalian-Holmquist
Khardalian thanked the Armenians in UAE for inviting her to do the presentation of the movie and started her speech by describing how the initial idea of making this move had occurred to her. One day she was reading a brief newspaper caption, where the death of a person was announced in few lines, adding that he was the last survivor of the Armenian Genocide in the city where he had settled after escaping the atrocities. This innocent remark motivated her to start a new film: to find one of these latest survivor-witnesses of the Genocide and to try to convey to the audience the experience of a lifetime hidden behind a person.
Khardalian admitted that it was difficult to find the right person for the purpose. There were several candidates, but most of them did not have full grasp on their memory. After long search she found a suitable candidate, who was living in a French city, but his family members were so far from the Armenian reality, that eventually did not allow him to talk about his experience. The quest for the right “star” led Khardalian to Garbis, a 100 years old person, who became the subject of the film. Garbis and his family were open minded and cooperative. He had a big personal archive of family photos and movies. He believed in the importance of leaving visual marks to the coming generations. Part of his family movie clips were used by Khardalian, mixing the old material with present day scenes, thus creating a sort of connectivity between different periods of time.
Khardalian underlined that she did not want to make an ordinary movie, based on scientific documentation. On the contrary, this was a movie based on the real life of a person. It was lauded by foreign audience more for the spirit of the renaissance and restarting a new life demonstrated by Garbis, rather than being a movie on the topic of Genocide.
What Garbis did is characteristic to many Armenians of the time. He struggled to survive and to prove that he could not be defeated or brought to his knees. Another aspect that Khardalian highlights in the film is the idea of the lost rights and properties. Armenians lost their lives and homes. They became without land and properties. They were deprived from all means of dignified life and were forced to be beggars. But the strange thing is that the will of revival immediately surfaced and they managed to change their miserable economic situation to at least a modest one and in some cases they reached highly affluent situations. Garbis was obliged to be a beggar in Baghdad, after being driven away his homeland, but after a short while he managed to open his own business and to develop it further in France after emigrating there, although he had some hardship during the first years in the new continent.
Some 120 Armenians followed the film display and the commentaries by the Director after the movie. One of the subjects discussed at this point was how to encourage young Armenians to be involved in political and media related careers. Having Armenians involved in the movie business will make it easier to promote subjects related to the Armenians and their problems.
Click here to read additional information on the Director and her work (including a letter addressed to Azad-Hye a year ago)
Congratulations from the audience
Meeting with old acquaintances (Hratch and Sylvia Davidian)