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‘Aurora’s Sunrise’ Trailer: Armenia’s Submission For Oscars International Film Category Tells Remarkable “Forgotten Story Of Survival”

An animated still from 'Aurora's Sunrise'

EXCLUSIVE: We’ve got your first look at Armenia’s official submission for the Oscars’ Best International Film race, the stirring animated documentary Aurora’s Sunrise.

Inna Sahakyan’s film tells the extraordinary story of Aurora Mardiganian, who survived the Armenian genocide as a teenager, and later came to Hollywood where she starred in a 1919 silent film based on her account of the massacre that killed around 1 million Armenians.

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“Starring as herself in Auction of Souls, an early Hollywood blockbuster, Aurora became the face of one of the largest charity campaigns in American history,” according to a description of the documentary. “With a blend of vivid animation, interviews with Aurora herself, and 18 minutes of surviving footage from her lost silent epic, Aurora’s Sunrise revives a forgotten story of survival.”

Aurora’s Sunrise will be making its North American premiere at the Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood on October 23. The film held its world premiere in June at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. It won the Silver Apricot at the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival this year and is an official selection of IDFA, Docslisboa, and FilmFest Hamburg, which begins tomorrow.

In a review out of Annecy, Cineuropa called the film “a heartbreaking tale of survival on two continents and a vivid re-examination of the Armenian genocide. Aurora Mardiganian, the titular protagonist… had, on the basis of what we see here, one of the most remarkable lives of any survivor…”

Aurora’s Sunrise is a co-production of Armenia, Lithuania and Germany. The filmmakers note, “The Zoryan Institute, non-profit and charity provided a crucial level of research and financial support in the making of this production and this film is based on its Oral History Archive.”

The film is directed and co-written by Sahakyan and produced by Bars Media, Artbox Laisvalaikio Klubas, and Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion. Credited producers include Vardan Hovhannisyan, Christian Beetz, Justė Michailinaitė, Kęstutis Drazdauskas, and Eric Esrailian. Art direction is by Tigran Arakelyan; the lead illustrator is Gediminas Skyrius.

CAT&Docs is handling international sales.

Sahakyan’s directing credits include Mel, also released this year, and the 2010 documentary Armenia’s Last Tightrope Dancer.

Watch the trailer for Aurora’s Sunrise above.

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