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Old 06.10.2003, 20:31   #1
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Default Short film on Armenian Genocide

Dear friends,

Please review this post and give me your suggestions and feedback, this project is in the early stages of development and any input is highly important to me. I would very much like to know what you think of it, what would be useful to add, what possible scenes would convey more powerful messages. Please note that the film has a specific focus- so please read the proposal carefully.

The DOC file is available here.



ps. If you'd like to send your suggestions directly to me please don't hesitate to write to [email protected]

Proposal Document - A short film on the Armenian Genocide
Creator of

Objective: The following is a proposal for a short film geared toward a unique conceptualization of the experience of a child in the midst of genocide. The objective is to capture and expand upon existing interpretations of a person’s sensory experience in the midst of gross human rights violations.

Setting: On the eastern territories of Ottoman Turkey, morning in late April, 1915

Time duration: 3 to 5 minutes

Description: This will be a short film shot in "documentary style", and based entirely upon the experiences of an Armenian child in the Ottoman Empire during the Genocide in the Spring of 1915. The film will be a composed of 10-12 short sequences (10 to 20 seconds) of a number of scenes, with transitional fades to black from image to image. Each sequence will be filmed in a way that depicts the events as seen through the eyes of a child. Images will thus be shot from a low angle, several degrees below the average eye range of an adult. Graphic images of rape and murder will be avoided, and focus will be rather upon developing methods of portraying sound and visual stimuli that can capture human experience in sub-human conditions. The film will be edited with cutting-edge technology so as to attempt to re-create an atmosphere of a time and place that has rarely been very convincingly portrayed on film. The goal is to find a subtle way of displaying the brutality with which the Armenians were subjected to extermination, and to convey this in a way that can open a channel through which every person who watches it can relate. There must be no feeling that one is watching a movie. The film should project the feeling of sharing the experience of a real-time event, as seen and experienced by a child.

· All footage will be shot in black & white.
· Aside from the introductory scene, no faces will be shown. The impact of the sensory experience is to be predicated on the notion of anonymity, thereby making the piece something that can be universalized, similar to other human rights’ film documentary pieces.
· There must be seamless integration of existing (archival) photo documents into the ‘live’ footage.
· An underlying principle to the piece is the notion that “perception is reality”, and therefore the creation of a very well executed short film piece capturing these exact perceptions can lend to a greater appreciation of this historical reality. This is an attempt to re-construct the reality of a historical event (that has repeated itself and proven to be the first in a long line of similar ones) so compelling, that the historical context almost fades away, leaving behind a only the sense of human agony.

Proposed Sequence Sample of Events:

1) Short introductory cuts of sunrise over the village / house (capturing the ambience as if in a child's dream; conveying feelings of peace, calm, love). Fade to black.
2) Cut image to a child sleeping in a bed (close-up of closed eyes, calm breathing, wind through soft curtains of open window, sleep, offset only by the muffled sound of parents speaking in the background, in Armenian, in hushed and worried tones). Fade to black.
3) Sharp cut to first contact with Turkish soldiers entering the house. Sudden volume escalation: sounds of panic, screams. (Shadowy images of a tall man, the father, being taken away, muffled sounds of mother’s anguish, followed by distinctly loud sounds of gunshots). Fade to black.
4) Focus on the close-up of a child’s last contact with mother's hands (followed by child’s desperate view on images of feminine figure in long skirts, long hair – as she is taken away). Fade to black.
5) Move to shot of a group scene from low angle – the blurry figures and forms of Armenian men, women, and children surrounded by horsemen (panning from a background with following reference points: a close-up of the feet of a hanged man, and burning, looted homes). Fade to black.
6) Camera shot of small running feet through fields of patchy grass and lots of dirt, overpowering sound of heavy breathing depicting the attempt at escape (chased by machete-wielding figure on a horse, distinct sound of muttered Turkish expletives...). Fade to black.
7) Volume augmentation: continued breathing and camera focus on running, followed by the sound of some form of closure... of a body falling onto a patch of ground. Fade to black.
8) Camera turn to capture the ‘caravans of death’ in distance, as if to re-capture the initial introductory shots of the sunrise over the village. Film detail to convey the incongruity, the incredulity of a child coming to grips with this reality (in what was previously a ‘safe’ reality). Fade to black.
9) Camera zoom from child’s perspective, looking up to adults, and begging for water. Close-up of bare feet bleeding from the stones of the desert, and sense of 180 degree camera movement, capturing people falling and collapsing from exposure, hunger and wounds. Fade to black.
10) Conclusion:
a. Close-up of the trembling hands of a very old woman (close look at texture of skin, perhaps with focus on what may been a distinctive skin marking or symbol of sorts). Power of suggestion and reference that this is the child who survived the massacres and the deportations. Fade to black
b. Camera movement up, to dark, silent deep eyes that can’t cry. Fade to black.

Closing screen shots:
Black background - fade in/out several times, as if making attempting to reconcile those images with reality, as if eyes are blinking several times to clear the field of vision.

Then, text flashes:

The genocide perpetrated in 1915 against the Armenian citizens of Ottoman Empire was the first systematic attempt in modern times to bring about the complete, deliberate extermination of a nation. The death toll over the years from 1915 to 1923 was more than 1.5 million.

1942 - The deportation of Jews to Auschwitz, a ‘work camp’ located in Poland. Result: Holocaust. 6 million lost

1975 – The rule of Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, Cambodia. Result: Genocide. 1 million lost

1994 – Rwandans rounded up and Hutu/Tutsi killings began. Result: Genocide. 250 thousand lost (check this number)

Recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Credits: creators & sponsors.

Note: Armenians have long anticipated a movie about the genocide, which would bring the subject of this ‘forgotten genocide’ into the spotlight, and make people relate in a personal way to the tragedy of the Armenian nation as they have related to the Jewish Holocaust. This has, as yet, not been accomplished by previous pieces of work treating the subject matter. By making this film we want undertake an alternative study of the intense emotional and psychological trauma of a real event, that has the capacity to takes its viewer back to a morning in April 1915.

Release notes: The film can be submitted to various short film festivals, be submitted for screenings on television channels, participate in the annual Genocide commemoration events and be presented on the web to the wider audience thus promoting the recognition efforts worldwide.
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