On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 Mediamax realized “100 seconds” project. The key message was that what happened in 1915 was not only a huge political and humanitarian catastrophe but a terrible chain of personal tragedies.
We took testimonies of Genocide survivors published by the National Archives of Armenia in 2013, selected excerpts lasting 100 seconds, and offered the renown people of different nationalities read them firsthand, “identifying” themselves with the survivors. When possible, participants were asked to read the testimony in their native language.
The partner of the project was VivaCell-MTS, thanks to which we managed to film in different countries. Part of filming was done in Yerevan: those were the guests of the Golden Apricot Film Festival. Among them were Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi, supermodel and actress Adriana Sklenarikova-Karembeu, French actress Anna Mouglalis.
The filming abroad started with my good friend Sally Day. She is the personal assistant of Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, but is an actress by profession. I think Sally read “her” testimony most impressively.
It was very important for me to engage Georgians in the project. I was not pursuing any “political goal,” I probably wanted to prove to myself that despite the close ties between Georgia and Turkey, there would be people for whom the pain of Armenians meant something. I am glad I was not mistaken. Journalist Zviad Koridze and director of the Georgian Literature Museum, historian and literary critic Lasha Bakradze without hesitation expressed readiness to read testimonies.
At that time the Lithuanian ambassador to Armenia was Erikas Petrikas, I told him that I would very much like to have a participant from Lithuania. Erikas promised to think and give contacts of some people. A few days later, he sent me a phone number and a note saying, “This is Regimantas Adomaitis, call and talk to him.” I have met many famous people during my journalistic career, but again, I was very excited before calling Adomaitis. I could not believe that I was going to talk to the hero of many of my childhood movies.
In Moscow journalist Sergey Parkhomenko and blogger Anton Nossik immediately agreed. The filming was done for us by Anna Aleshkovskaya with who we had never met “in person” but are distant friends. Anna also offered to involve her brother Mitya in the project, who was actively engaged in social activities and founded charitable foundations which saved many lives.
Amberin Zaman, then a correspondent for The Economist in Turkey, joined the project. I have just recently met with Amberin in Yerevan and thanked for joining “100 Seconds”. She already had complicated relations with the Turkish authorities, and reading the testimony of an Armenian Genocide survivor would certainly not contribute to their improvement.
Another member of our project was Tim Judah working in Ukraine since the first days of the war and writing articles for the Financial Times. I really want him to return home unharmed.
In Washington we filmed Thomas de Waal. The filming was organized by my friend and classmate Yulia Petrossian Boyle, senior vice president of National Geographic. In Scotland we filmed English historian, editor of Journal of Holocaust Education Donald Bloxham.
Jon Dee, a great friend of Armenians and my personally, the author of the Rock Aid Armenia project, could not stay out of the project.
After November 9, 2020, I often remember the “100 Seconds” project. During the war, we felt abandoned by the world. But this project proves that we have true friends who understand our pain. And today our task is to create new content to give our friends opportunities to be happy for us as well after some time.
Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax