A Cultural Affair in the Windy City

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Four-Time Emmy Award-Winning Film Director Bared Maronian’s ‘Orphans of the Genocide’ and ‘Women of 1915’ Breezes into the Windy City…

It was a clear crisp spring night on Fri., March 20, when eager and very much galvanized Armenians (young and old) of Greater Chicagoland came out to the Moviemax Cinemas in Niles, Ill., to attend two sold-out shows for “Orphans of the Genocide.” Organized by the Chicago Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society and the Chicago Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, the event was extremely successful with 400 guests in attendance. After each screening, four-time Emmy Award-winning film director Bared Maronian led a noteworthy discussion and Q&A.

Bared Maronian’s ‘Women of 1915’ Presentation

The following evening, Sat., March 21, the Chicago Executive of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society hosted a memorable fundraising and cultural event for Maronian at the Armenian Community Center, Shahnasarian Hall, in Glenview, Ill. Welcomed by the mistress of ceremonies, Talin Artinian, the 100 invited guests were treated to Armenian song by soloist Harout Kendimian, accompanied by his daughter Loucine Tokmakjian on piano, and soloist Dr. Dikran Leblebijian, accompanied by Robert Artinian on piano, as well as a classical music dual piano performance by Annie Artinian and Vicki Diefenbacher. The evening’s main feature—a preview of Bared Maronian’s latest documentary, “Women of 1915”—was followed by a fundraising ceremony led by Hamazkayin vice chairman Thomas Ohanian.

Bared Maronian and Arpy Seferian

The evening’s gala was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Arpy Seferian, who marked the Centennial of by sharing fond memories of her beloved grandmother, Satenik DerBalian. Seferian remembered her grandmother as a kind and loving woman who adored her as the first child of her son. A strong-willed woman, Satenik DerBalian gave strength to her husband Kevork and her two children, Alice and Haroutiun, during their painful exodus from Aintab to Aleppo. Eventually the mother of five children and later a mother in-law herself, Satenik was known as the family unifier. Disapproving of gossip, Satenik’s mantra was the old Armenian adage, “If you hear people gossiping, hide it under your skirt and do not spread it.” For Arpy Seferian, her grandmother was a perfect model of what an Armenian mother and mother-in-law should be.

Following the tribute, Hamazkayin chairlady Rita Arakelian introduced Maronian, who illustrated how his new documentary, “Women of 1915,” seeks to educate and increase awareness of the genocide and the role played by Armenian and non-Armenian women. He detailed how it aims to bring heroic women to life—women including foreign relief workers who were injured and forced to flee, while others chose to remain and give their lives to rescue Armenian women and children. In short, Maronian demonstrated how the film promises to connect lives through family accounts and documents, journals, letters, telegraphs, and historic archives.

Guests so moved by the documentary raised a considerable dollar amount for the project. The evening concluded on a happy note.

All in all, Bared Maronian’s two-day affair in the windy city was truly unforgettable for the Chicago Armenians marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

– (L-R) Astrun Ohanyan, Thomas Ohanian, Talin Artinian, Rita Arakelian, Lucine Torian, Narine Asatryan, and Armine Papazian

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