Egoyan's Treatment of the Armenian Genocide is Named Best Film; Khanjian and Koteas are Honored for their Roles

February 14, 2003

TORONTO, CANADA – Renowned Director Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat,” which explores the ongoing impact of the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, was honored as the best Canadian feature film of 2002 at the “Genie” awards ceremony held last night.

In addition to best film, “Ararat” won awards in four additional categories, best actress, Arsinee Khanjian; best supporting actor Elias Koteas; best original score, Mychael Danna, and; best costume design, Beth Pasternak.

In a statement issued earlier today, the Armenian National Committee of Canada extended its “profound congratulations to the five winners of last night’s Genie Awards. . . The importance of this long overdue film, critical as it is of Turkey’s longstanding denial of its own history, cannot be overstated. Director Atom Egoyan has directed not only a remarkably intricate character study, but has managed to do so by exposing the inherent problems and consequences of genocide denial, which are still very relevant today.”

Accepting the best picture award in Egoyan’s absence, Ararat producer Robert Lantos explained that, “Four years ago, I challenged Atom to make a film about the tragic story of his people, the Armenians. And I said if he did, I would stand by him.” Egoyan was unable to be present at the award ceremony because he is serving on the jury at the Berlin Film Festival.

Best actress winner Arsinee Khanjian, who hosted the “Genie” Awards, commented on her victory, noting, “With my work on ‘Ararat,’ I wanted to honor the spirit of my ancestors.” She then thanked her husband, Egoyan, – “without whom I might have become a politician,” she laughed – before finishing her speech in Armenian.

Having made its world-premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2002, “Ararat” is described as Egoyan’s most powerful film to date, weaving the tale of the estranged members of a contemporary Armenian family faced both with Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and with their own complicated lives. The film initially opened in Los Angeles and New York theaters on November 15th and continues to be seen in cities across North America.

As part of their efforts to generate nation-wide awareness of the film, the ANCA’s regional offices and local chapters organized a grassroots campaign to encourage Armenian Americans to “Take a Friend to Ararat.” In a recent interview with Canada’s “Horizon Weekly” correspondent Aris Babikian, Director Atom Egoyan stressed the importance of these grassroots efforts to the success of the film, noting “I can’t underestimate the crucial role that the Armenian community played at that point through the “Take a Friend to Ararat” program and through the Action Alert notices… That opening weekend [in Los Angeles and New York] was historic. We had a higher per-screen-average than ‘Harry Potter.’ That is remarkable. I think the campaign was able to facilitate wider distribution and continued to manifest the passion [Miramax Co-Chairman] Harvey [Weinstein] felt.”

In October of last year, the ANCA cosponsored, along with the Armenian Assembly, a Congressional Armenian Caucus screening of the film at the Library of Congress for U.S. Representatives and Senators.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 * Email.anca@anca.org
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