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Now that "Ararat" is Finally Here, Why Have the Turks Fallen Silent? 11/30/2002
Now that "Ararat" is Finally Here, Why Have the Turks Fallen Silent?

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

During the last couple of years, as Atom Egoyan and his crew were
working on "Ararat," various Turkish individuals, organizations and
officials were busy trying to undermine first the production and then
the distribution of this movie.

Before knowing anything about this movie, except possibly its name,
Turkish ghazitajis (yellow journalists) wrote dozens of articles
severely criticizing it. Several months ago, a Turkish "hired pen" even
wrote a whole book against "Ararat" without having seen a single scene.
Not satisfied with writing articles and books against this movie, some
Turks took their "patriotic" duty to the next level. They started
sending threatening e-mails to Egoyan. They then organized a worldwide
campaign warning Miramax (the distributor of the film) and its parent
company, Disney, that if they went ahead with the distribution and
promotion of "Ararat," all of their movies would be banned from Turkey.
Some Turkish groups even said they planned to file a lawsuit against
Egoyan for "ruining the good name" of the Turks!

Fortunately, Harvey Weinstein, the founder of Miramax, remained
steadfast in his determination to go ahead with the release of "Ararat."
He told the Los Angeles Times on May 24: "the denial of the Armenian
Holocaust reminds me of the denial of our own Jewish Holocaust. I feel
strongly about that."

On November 18, Mr. Weinstein made even more impressive statements to
The Los Angeles Times: "Weinstein said he had never really heard of the
Armenian Genocide until Egoyan brought him the script. Once he read it
and did his own research, he felt it was time to tell the story. Having
lost eight relatives at Auschwitz, Weinstein related well to the
subject, although he said he expects to lose money on the film. 'I
thought it was way too compelling to ignore,' said Weinstein.."

Besides assuming the financial risks, he, as a Jew, even went against
the wishes of both the Israeli government and several major American
Jewish organizations that are in cahoots with the Turks to obstruct the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

I hope that the Armenian government and Armenian American organizations
will show their appreciation for Mr. Weinstein's courageous stand and
honor him with their highest awards.

Returning to the Turks, after all of their venomous rhetoric before the
release of "Ararat," now that the movie is out, the Turks, strangely,
have fallen completely silent. Ever since "Ararat's" premiere at the
Cannes Film Festival, hundreds of favorable articles have been written
in France, Canada and the United States about the movie and its central
theme, the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Turks who are
usually quick to respond to the slightest mention of the Armenian
Genocide and even quicker to deny everything, have not countered a
single one of these articles. They have not sued Egoyan. They have not
even sent a couple of guys to demonstrate in front of a single theater
where "Ararat" is being shown. What's the matter with these Turks? Have
they given up? Or, have they been too pre-occupied with their domestic
political problems?

As I had stated in a column that I wrote last June, thanks to a very
vocal Turkish campaign against this movie early on, "Ararat" received a
tremendous amount of free publicity worldwide. I hope my column did not
discourage the Turks from continuing their "very useful" activities on
behalf of "Ararat."

Remember that this is the movie that the Turks did not want you to see.
Thanks to Egoyan and Weinstein, this movie was made and distributed
worldwide. It generated hundreds of articles about the Armenian Genocide
in the international press. These articles are worth their weight in
gold in terms of publicity for the Armenian Cause!

I saw "Ararat" twice. It is a well-made movie with a complex plot and
many subplots. Everyone needs to go and see this thought-provoking
movie, preferably more than once. We should particularly encourage our
non-Armenian friends, neighbors and colleagues to see it. If this first
major Armenian movie becomes financially successful, other producers
will follow suit and make many more movies with an Armenian theme.
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