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Lifestyle

February 20, 2014

Documentary of denial

Father-daughter team revisits Armenian Genocide

GLOUCESTER — If Nubar Alexanian, a Gloucester resident, was to ask someone in a local coffee shop about the Armenian genocide of 1915, he might get a confused look and embarrassed shake of the head. But if Nubar was to walk into a coffee shop in Istanbul, Turkey, and mention the genocide to the barista, he could end up in handcuffs.

Both situations — ignorance and Turkish denial — are why Nubar, 63, and his daughter Abby, 25, decided to make the documentary “Journey to Armenia” about their personal and familial connections to the 1915 genocide. The Cape Ann Forum will premiere a 15-minute sample of the documentary on Feb. 23 at the Cape Ann Community Cinema in Gloucester from 7 to 8:30 p.m., including a question and answer session with Nubar and Abby. The full 60-minute film should be released in February 2015.

“The stories aren’t being told and that’s why we’re doing this movie,” said Nubar, a second-generation Armenian in the United States. “It was my daughter who asked me to go to Armenia with her. I had never thought about going before, because I’m American and the genocide was in the past. Then I realized I didn’t even know anything about it. Both sets of my grandparents fled the genocide, but they never talked about it.”

After 100 years and three generations of silence, Nubar and Abby began research, family interviews, preliminary filming, promotion and fundraising before embarking on their trip to eastern Turkey in May 2012. They traveled more than 2,600 miles in three weeks, and Nubar says every village they stopped in smelled like his grandmother’s kitchen.

“The trip was life-changing for sure,” said Abby. “It was really amazing to see where our family had walked every day, but then so sad to know that they are no longer walking there today.”

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