A new film is being shot telling about the human tragedies at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, namely the humanist movement emerging as a wave of protest and resistance during the Armenian Genocide. “Man Pictures” Studio (Armenia) with the assistance of the National Cinema Center of Armenia is shooting a feature-length docudrama film entitled “Map of Salvation”. The film heroes are five humanist women known to history. They are real people who have witnessed the massacres of the Armenians. Manvel Saribekyan, the author of the film idea, general producer and the founding director of “Man Pictures” Studio, goes into the details of the film “Map of Salvation”.
“What is the film “Map of Salvation” about and who are the film heroes?”
“The film tells about the human pain, the tragedy of a nation with the example of the five humanist women who hurried up to help from different parts of the world. This film is about choosing life over death, salvation over destruction and humanism over violence. The film that evokes feelings of pride and gratitude towards the courageous women will be interesting not only for the Armenians scattered around the world and the other nations with the same destiny, but also for those nations that are still hesitant to use the definition of “the Armenian Genocide”. The film heroes are five humanist women: Maria Jakobsenand Karen Eppe(Denmark), Bodil Bjorn (Norway), Alma Johansson (Sweden), Hedwig Bul (Estonia).
They are witnesses of the Armenian Genocide and the founders of shelters for Armenian children and women who barely escaped death. Their extremely dramatic encounter with a tormented people unknown to them was fatal for these great humanists. Leaving their comfortable lives in Europe and heading to the Armenian land they devoted themselves unconditionally and selflessly to the Armenian nation.
The film is told by Finnish historian Svante Lundgren. Passing through the path of mission of the film heroines, he draws a new map: “The Map of Salvation.” The film lasts 90 minutes. The production director is Aram Shahbazyan, the screenwriter is Anna Sargsyan and the cinematographer is Arthur Gharayan.”
“It was 2011-12. I had a wish to do something, to make a film dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I had different ideas then. I was thinking of shooting short films and binging them together in one film. I also imagined them to be shot by foreign directors. I was searching when I met writer Hakob Soghomonyan. And when he learned what I was looking for he said that he had published a book about humanist people. I decided to make such a film that would turn to that humanist women. Due to the efforts made by Director of National Cinema Center of Armenia Gevorg Gevorgyan the film project was approved and received funding.”
“The film is about the genocide but it is presented in the humanitarian context through the heroes of our film. We tell the stories of the five humanist women showing the priceless assistance provided to the Armenian people by them. And in their stories we are trying to present the real evidences that we have managed to find out and shoot in the royal libraries, museums, personal vaults, archives of the state and various organizations of a number of countries. The film heroes are real people who have witnessed the Armenian Genocide. The audience will certainly be touched when watching the film as the destinies of these women are very dramatic. The film is told by Svante Lundgren, the author of the book on genocides, who follows the path of the mission of the heroines.”
“It is known that the original film will be in English, then it will be translated into other languages. In fact you are trying to distribute the film in other countries.”
“Yes, the film will be in English. The teller of the film also masters English. But it will certainly be translated. There will be no subtitles as they interrupt the audience. The film is going to be very dynamic and the audience should not be distracted. And we will do our best to present the film to the foreign audience. This film must be distributed.”
“His candidature has been put forward by one of the film consultants. By the way, the film has many consultants. Svante Lundgren is a wonderful person and has never expressed dissatisfaction. He is a historian, a genocidologist and he is interested in all this. He has been with us for 26 days already working as much as we did and now he is anxious to know when the film shootings will continue. It is not good to miss the rhythm. Our film making crew consists of professionals who are very talented, famous and have a special commitment to the film. In fact the energy of our film heroines gave us strength but the film shootings are suspended and we are waiting for the government’s decision to resume them. We are waiting to receive funds to be able to complete the film shootings at least till the end of December and to present the film to the public in April. We will also organize fundraising to complete the film budget. It is very important for us to finalize the film till the April of 2015.”
“15 professional and non-professional actors have taken part in the film shootings. The film has feature episodes but the actors don’t have any speech, they just present the historical situation. Only the film teller has a speech. All the actors are foreigners, we have found them and persuaded to be shot in the film. When the people learned what the film is about they readily agreed.”
“Is the film likely to be submitted to film festivals as well?”
“I cannot state anything for sure right now. Let’s wait for the end, but I think the film can take part in festivals. The film is to be screened in many places with the premieres being held in different countries.”