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Alexander Payne Asked if More Films About Armenian Genocide Could Stop Denial and Force Turkey's Recognition

Alexander Payne and Journalist Ani Khachatryan

The Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan hosted a special event titled "Rendez-Vous with Director Alexander Payne" at the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). During the session, Ani Khachatryan from The Armenian Report posed a question to Payne about the impact of films on historical memory and recognition.


Khachatryan asked, “There are countless films made about the Holocaust. Do you believe, that if more films were made about the Armenian Genocide, it would stop genocide denial and force Turkey to recognize its historical atrocities?”

Alexander Payne offered a reflective answer. He began by acknowledging the importance of remembering tragic historical events like the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. However, he emphasized that the challenge lies in making these films widely viewed, not just within specific cultural or national contexts.


Payne noted that Holocaust films, particularly those by Steven Spielberg, have succeeded in reaching a global audience because they are not just educational but also engaging and relatable on a personal level. Spielberg's "Schindler's List," for example, managed to tell a gripping, human story that resonated with audiences worldwide.


Payne stressed the importance of storytelling in making films about historical atrocities. He mentioned that people generally do not prefer didactic films that feel like lectures. Instead, audiences are drawn to compelling stories about individuals with whom they can empathize.

To create a successful film about the Armenian Genocide that reaches a broad audience, Payne suggested it must be more than a reminder for Armenians; it must also be an engaging narrative that captivates and educates people from different backgrounds.


The director acknowledged the difficulties in achieving this balance but reiterated the importance of trying. He believed that the qualities of the artists behind the film play a crucial role in its success. Talented filmmakers can craft stories that are both poignant and universally appealing, thus keeping the memory of these events alive and sharing them with a wider audience.

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