BELMONT, MA — On Friday, October 13, at 7:30 p.m., the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and the Near East Foundation (NEF) will present the Boston-area public premiere of the documentary film They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum (formerly National Heritage Museum), 33 Marrett Road, in Lexington, MA (at the intersection of Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue). A post-film discussion will feature NEF Board Director and executive-producer of the film, Shant Mardirossian, with a panel of scholars. The program is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Produced by NEF Board Member Shant Mardirossian and award-winning director George Billard, the documentary They Shall Not Perish details the unprecedented humanitarian efforts of thousands of Americans who saved a generation of orphans and refugees during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and in the aftermath of the crisis that came to be known as the Armenian Genocide. The film teaches us the amazing role ordinary citizens can play in responding to humanitarian crises.

Following the screening, Marc Mamigonian, NAASR Director of Academic Affairs, will moderate a panel discussion with Shant Mardirossian and scholars Dr. Taner Akçam, Kaloosdian-Mugar Professor of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University; Dr. Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, Armenia; and Dr. Nora Nercessian, author of the study City of Orphans: Relief Workers, Commissars and the Builders of the New Armenia Alexandropol/Leninakan 1919-1931.

The one-hour documentary film features the stories of American diplomats, missionaries and relief workers who, as witnesses to the Armenian Genocide, responded to a call to action and mobilized the largest non-governmental international humanitarian movement undertaken by American citizens.

Narrated by six-time Emmy award nominated actor Victor Garber, the film is set against a mix of historical footage, archival photographs and utilizes contemporary interviews from leading academic experts such as Taner Akçam, Peter Balakian, Keith David Watenpaugh, and the late Martin Deranian. In addition, the letters of American officials, relief workers and orphans are brought to life through the voices of leading actors–Michael Aronov, Kathleen Chalfant, Dariush Kashani, Andrea Martin, Ron Rifkin, Tony Shalhoub and Kara Vedder–taking the audience on a journey from the depths of cruelty to the triumphs of survival.

Shant Mardirossian, inspired by his grandparents’ escape and survival during the genocide, says he produced this film “not just to remember those we lost in the genocide, but to shed light on an important chapter of American history when ordinary citizens stood together against a great injustice and saved the lives of 132,000 orphans.”

For additional information about this event, please contact NAASR at 617-489-1610 or [email protected].

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