"His polished, sometimes even poetic prose evokes a sense of curiosity and lament. In response to his family’s silence—and to the silence of a whole people still shellshocked by their grim treatment—Kalajian has become a professional storyteller and an excellent one at that." Kirkus Reviews

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Straw Dolls: A film that deserves to be made about a story that needs to be told


I got an interesting email the other day from an independent film maker who's trying to raise money to tell a story about the Armenian Genocide.

What interested me most about Jon Milano's project is that he isn't Armenian.


Jon Milano
Milano, an independent director based in Los Angeles, is a graduate student at Chapman University. He explained his interest this way:

"I grew up in Oradell, New Jersey. My closest and dearest friends were Armenian, so I became aware at a young age of the magnitude of the Genocide and since then I have always wanted to make a film about the subject. 

"My friend Yervant's grandmother was a survivor. He had told me her story when we were growing up and it has stuck with me since. I came to him and told his family I wanted to make a movie about her and her journey. We also brought in some other stories from survivors and incorporated them into her story. Our research began about six years ago, combing archives and meeting grandchildren and children of survivors."

The result of this research is Straw Dolls, which tells the story of a girl named Lucine. As a survivor living in latter-day California, Lucine relates the story of her parents' murder and the journey of survival in which she set out with nothing more than the straw doll her mother had made for her.

The events and people her character describes are all based on true stories told by other survivors. "The film is one of the first narrative movies about the Genocide that isn't a documentary," Milano said. 

Milano's immediate goal is to raise enough money to make a short film that will serve as a showcase to garner support for a feature-length version.

I know just enough about the film industry to be impressed by Milano's ambition.

As in print publishing, changes in technology have made film-making more affordable and accessible than in the days of the big studios but a well-told story is still a challenge—particularly one set in another time and place.

That challenge is certainly compounded when the underlying story is one that so many have tried very hard to ignore or deny.

So bravo to Milano, who is hoping to raise money through crowd funding. Do you know about crowd funding? All I know is that gutsy people who believe in their ideas can pitch them to the world via the Internet. If all goes well the crowd responds with contributions.

Milano's first round of solicitation is over but he's still seeking support. 

Intrigued? Check out Milano's video and extended proposal

1 comment:

  1. Powerful film that I was priveleged to see at a film festival. I am also not Armenian, but married to one. I have heard many stories from my wife and her family as her grandmother was a survivor. If anyone has not seen the short film, it is a must see.

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