LONDON—Filmmaker Ani Hovannisian was invited to speak and share her documentary “The Hidden Map,” in the British Parliament on March 23.
The gathering was attended by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Armenia, with invited guests including Armenia’s Ambassador His Excellency Varuzhan Nersesyan and his wife Mrs. Narine Malkhasyan, Professor Richard Hovannisian, and Scottish explorer Steven Sim who is featured in the film.
The event, which marked the film’s inaugural presentation in the United Kingdom, was organized and hosted by Chair of the APPG, Parliamentarian Tim Loughton, and initiated by Annette Moskofian, Chair of the Armenian National Committee UK.
Hovannisian prefaced the film with a reminder about the continuing cycle of human destruction when colossal crimes such as those inflicted upon Armenia and Artsakh are allowed to go unrequited. ”The power of memory against forgetting is a great weapon,” she added, “and this film is for all of us and for the people whose voices cannot be heard.”
The diverse group, ranging from MPs to Lords, Bishop to Baroness, and Ambassador to Defense Advisor, watched “The Hidden Map” attentively, as an Armenian-American granddaughter of genocide survivors journeys to her lost ancestral homeland to face the forbidden past.
She encounters a Scottish explorer there, and together, they dig beneath the surface of modern-day Turkey, uncovering buried secrets, sacred relics, daring resilience, and the hidden map.
A robust, constructive discussion followed, particularly about the current state of Armenian affairs, Turkish denial, world response and lack thereof, and building grassroots relationships between people, while trying to affect State policy.
“That film was fascinating,” commented MP Loughton. “The fact that so many sacred sites that have meant so much to so many generations of Armenian Christians are completely neglected or proactively destroyed as we saw in the film is heartrending.”
MP Fiona Bruce, the Prime Minister’s Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, added, “Thank you for allowing me to understand more about the very sad history of so many parts of Armenia and for drawing this history to a much wider audience.”
Bishop of Coventry, Lord Christopher Cocksworth called it an extraordinary piece of work, adding that he was particularly moved by the people in the film: “The State will not acknowledge it, but we can’t give up on the people.”
“How to build community post-genocide is very difficult,” said Alixe Buckerfield de la Roche, Advisor to the Chiefs of Defense. “What you’ve done in this movie is critically important in terms of building community after genocide.”
In his words of gratitude to MP Tim Loughton, Steven Sim, Ani Hovannisian, and especially Ani’s father, Professor Richard Hovannisian for his lifelong dedication to genocide scholarship, documentation, and teaching, Ambassador Nersesyan stressed, “This documentary is the result of such great dedication, and reminds us of the tasks ahead… The Genocide is not only about the past. It’s about contemporary times and the prevention of future atrocities and crimes.”
In her closing remarks, Ani quoted former UK Prime Minister H.H. Asquith (1908-1916): “To stand aside with stopped ears, folded arms, with an averted gaze when you have the power to intervene is to become not a mere spectator, but an accomplice. And that’s what we have done as a world. We have watched and allowed it to happen over and over again.”
“They knew here that it was wrong, and every piece of evidence one ever needs is in your archives, my archives, our grandparents’ stories, and countless books.” Speaking also of the current atrocities in Artsakh, she noted, “It is a continuation of man’s inhumanity to man that is not addressed,” concluding, “We have to get beyond power and might, and do what is right. Thank you, because you are the voices here of truth and humanity, and we need the world not to forget.“
The group closed the evening with personal exchanges, Karas Armenian wine, and photographs of the historic gathering, just days before an APPG delegation was scheduled to depart for Armenia.