Two first-time US filmmakers have accused The Water Diviner of ignoring the alleged slaughter of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks a century ago.

The Australian drama directed by Russell Crowe is the “highest profile piece of propaganda ever produced in the service of genocide denial,” Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian say in an open letter to Warner Bros., the film’s US distributor.

Hovannisian, an Armenian-American, and Mouhibian, a Los Angeles-based writer, co-directed 1915 The Movie, a psychological thriller which follows a director (Simon Abkarian) who stages a play at the Los Angeles Theatre to honour the victims of the Armenian tragedy.

As protesters surround the theatre and a series of strange accidents spread panic among his actors, the ghosts of the past reappear.

Published last week in The Wrap, their letter refers to the US release date of The Water Diviner, April 24.

They write, “The problem is that April 24, 2015, also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which was perpetrated by the very Turkish government whitewashed by The Water Diviner.

“It was on April 24, 1915 — the night before the Gallipoli landing — that the Young Turk regime set into motion its unprecedented plan: the efficient deportation and slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians and the destruction of their homeland of thousands of years.

“To this day the Turkish government denies that a genocide ever happened. Through lobby groups in Washington, professors at Ivy League universities, and studios in Hollywood, it has been on a quiet century-long campaign to rewrite the history of 1915.

“Mr. Crowe’s film goes to show how successful this campaign has been. Nobody watching The Water Diviner would know that Armenians had ever existed in the Ottoman Turkish Empire — let alone that they were being exterminated there in the first genocide of modern history.

“Of course we do not know how Mr. Crowe and now Warner Bros. have ended up here — by ignorance alone or by bad luck — so we remain polite in how we ask you to consider the consequences of what you are about to do.”

In part the letter could be seen as an attempt to generate publicity for 1915 The Movie, which opened in US cinemas last Friday and is available on demand from April 22.

According to the Los Angeles Times review, “The film plays out like a pensive, high-minded version of Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Amid thespian antics, it contemplates weightier ethical dilemmas such as personal tragedy versus collective grief, artistic license versus historical responsibility, revisionist history versus corrective narrative, forgetting versus moving on.

"It's one creative way to do justice to such a monumental topic when full-blown re-enactments aren't within the budget.”
 

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5 Comments

  1. 25 April 2015 – 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula. 24 April 2015 the centenary of an apparent/alleged Ottoman Empire plan to kill off Armenians. Which particular ‘ Single Issue Zealot’ barrow do you wish to push – Russell Crowe’s dedication to his Kiwi heritage and Australian linkagez, or the issue of an Armenian- American movie maker’s issues with a now failed empire (noting, of course, the Turkish hero at Gallipoli, LTCOL Kemal, went on to become Kemal Attaturk – the man who saw ofc the Ottoman empire and founded modern, secular Turkey. I don’t see Crowe’s film as attempt to whitewash the Ottoman’s atrocities (undeniable as they are); rather it is an Astralo- New Zealand tale of hope post WWI, and post the events that saw two young nations in the South Pacific take their first tentative steps on a global stage, albeit as part of a global war, and as part of a fading British Emperial committment. New Zealand sustained the highest percentage of casualties of any Commonwealth nation in WWI. Australia was clise behind. That is the issue of the movie. It is a pity politics is still at play a century later and a single-issue zealot or two can seek to undermine a movie with a specific focus for their own ’cause’.

  2. These filmmakers are too kind to Russell Crowe and Warner Bros. The Water Diviner does more than ignore the Armenian Genocide. Being set in 1919 it actively promotes the idea that the Greeks are the evil doers of the time. While 1,500,000 Armenians died a further 750,000 Assyrians and 950,000 Greeks were also murdered. Russell’s movie tries to confuse, distort and fabricate history. Who Speaks For The Dead? Find out at https://twentiethcenturyconfidential.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/who-speaks-for-the-dead/

  3. This is the centennial anniversary of ,amy tragedies that happened across Europe and the Middle East, this includes the massacres of Armenians. But Armenians do. Ot have the monopoly of memory, many other people got killed, millions of people have lost their lives. Rspect the memories of everybody, Armenians are not alone on this planet , people are allowed to talk and make movies about other subjects too.. , give people a break..

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