1919 saw the premiere in New York of Auction of Souls, a silent film about a teenage girl who survived the Armenian genocide and fled to the US. The main role was played by the survivor herself, Aurora Mardiganian. The film was a box office hit, and Mardiganian became world-famous.
The massacres in Armenia continued, however, and Mardiganian was engulfed by the waves of relived trauma whipped up by the callous Hollywood publicity machine. Nonetheless, she chose to become the face of a humanitarian campaign, in the hope of saving her people. Now, more than a century later, Inna Sahakyan’s historical documentary reconstructs the life story of this hero, who died in 1994.
Mardiganian’s memoir Ravished Armenia lies at the heart of this chronological animated film. The animated sections are interspersed with rare scenes from the original Hollywood film, most of which has been lost, as well as archive footage of an elderly Mardiganian recalling her remarkable, hellish odyssey. She, like the film’s director Sahakyan, wanted to ensure that the Armenian genocide will never be forgotten.