Hovannisian’s ‘The Hidden Map’ and Karanian’s ‘The Armenian Highland’ to make Canadian debuts at POM 2019
November 11, 2019
Cinema and literature are two distinct but equally powerful art forms, which have more in common than meets the eye…
Films and books are works of art, which may differ drastically in their approaches. There is no denying, however, that they are both extraordinary modes of expression for those who have a story to tell. And while each is unique in its own way, both are also considerably similar…
Both films and books have the power to inspire, entertain, educate, and stimulate, all through their narratives. In the case of “The Hidden Map” director Ani Hovannisian and The Armenian Highland: Western Armenian and the First Armenian Republic of 1918 author Matthew Karanian, both storytellers zero in on one topic; a topic that united Armenians from all over the world: Historic Armenia.
Hovannisian and Karanian present the ancient homeland of the Armenian people each in their own unique way. And on Nov. 17, the two will have the opportunity to present their works to Canadian audiences at Hamazkayin Toronto’s 14th annual Pomegranate Film Festival.
A hidden map leads to home
Even before it hit screens for public viewing, “The Hidden Map” (46 minutes, PG13) was already quick to rack up some important hardware: The film was recognized with an ImpactDOCS award and named as an official selection for the 2019 Arpa International Film Festival of Los Angeles.
Ani Hovannisian Kevorkian has been an active member of the American-Armenian community for years. As a reporter and later anchor for TeleNayiri and Horizon Armenian Television in LA for more than a decade, her finger has been on the Armenian pulse both in the diaspora and in the homeland. And while she had visited present-day Armenia several times since her childhood, it was only seven years ago that Ani embarked on the first of many expeditions into the historic Armenian homeland.
Fixed in the stories of her grandparents who survived the Armenian Genocide and molded by the lifelong dedication to the Armenian causes of her parents, Ani was determined to tell the world the story of Armenia’s lost treasures.
While she had directed and produced numerous true human-interest stories for TV and other international audiences, “The Hidden Map” is Hovannisian’s debut film, the idea of which, came to life when the filmmaker was visiting and traveling through Western Armenia with her father, historian Richard G. Hovannisian, and a small tour group. During their trip, Ani had a chance encounter with Scottish traveler Steven Sim, who is said to likely be the most-traveled modern explorer of historic Armenia.
The unforeseen meeting of Hovannisian and Sim’s journeys eventually turned into a beautiful fusion of art and exploration. Together, the two trailed through the rugged, often harsh land of historic Armenia, all while trying to discover and reveal fragments of history from its past.
And together, they uncover “The Hidden Map”—a map Canadian film lovers can’t wait to see!
A printed-and-bound beauty
Ohio State University History PhD Candidate Pietro Shakarian wasn’t lying when he called Karanian’s The Armenian Highland the author’s magnum opus; the meticulously researched and crafted book is truly a masterpiece through and through.
In his latest work, Karanian brings together more than 200 breathtaking color photos and maps—as well as more than 40 antique and never-before-published photos—to transport his readers to the ancient homeland of the Armenian people—the Armenian Highland.
The Armenian Highland was born out of inspiration; Karanian was inspired by his grandparents. “The story of their survival is a story that is both unique to their lives and also shared by so many Armenian families—a common thread in the fabric of Armenian history,” Karanian writes in the volume’s emotionally-charged preface. All four of Karanian’s grandparents escaped to the United States from Western Armenia following the Armenian Genocide.
Much ink has been spilled on the importance of The Armenian Highland’s content: From a beautifully illustrated introduction to and a historical rundown of the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920) to awe-inspiring views of historic Armenia from Ani to Kharpert and Sebastia, the book is chock-full of significant information, statistics, photographs, and maps, all of which should be considered required reading for anyone interested in who the Armenians are and where they came from.
Little has been said, however, about the sheer magnificence of the printed-and-bound, physical work that is The Armenian Highland. In this digital age, in which non-print media has disrupted industries such as the recording industry and the business of newspapers, people still love to hold in their hands and read physical books—especially those as beautiful as Karanian’s latest.
Available only in print hardcover, The Armenian Highland’s high-quality, striking images capture the reader in a way that pixels on a screen simply can’t; it’s the sort of book that craves the instinctive act of physically turning a page to see what the author presents next.
Do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy today: your eyes—and your Armenian soul—will thank you.
“The Hidden Map” will make its Canadian debut at the Pomegranate Film Festival on Nov. 17, 2019, at 1 p.m. Director Ani Hovannisian will join author Matthew Karanian and explorer Steven Sim for a panel about Western Armenia following the film. Karanian will also present “The Armenian Highland” during the panel.
The presentation will be hosted by the Sara Corning Center and held at the Hamazkayin Theater at the Armenian Youth Center of Toronto.
One of the few constants in my life has been Sasun, a land on which no living relative has ever set foot. In the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to discover the homeland of my ancestors, and along the way, encountered a lost branch of my family tree— of our collective Armenian family. Our survivor great-grandparents would describe those who were “left behind” during the genocide. These Armenians remained in what became the Republic of Turkey and were forced to hide or completely forgo their Armenian identities, living out the rest of their days as Kurds or Turks. We had the privilege to meet with some of these “Hidden Armenians,” who taught us that, just as 19th-century Sasun is impossible to imagine without Armenians, an Armenian resurgence in 21st-century Sasun can only happen with their inclusion.
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