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Nineteeth Golden Apricot Reviews: "The Forgotten Homeland"

 by Alex Deleon for

    Nineteeth Golden Apricot Reviews "The Forgotten Homeland" 

A Documentary film by Egyptian director, Essam Nagy. was the main event of the first full day of the festival.  The subject  was the aftereffects of the 2020 Artsakhh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan

World Premiere.

A shocker to end all shockers.
The full house audience  at the Moskva Theater Red Hall  was transfixed.
I was tremendously saddened myself.
The  suffering of the Artsakh  Armenians and the attempted cultural Genocide by the Azeris reverberated, for me  at least, with  the current attempt by the Russians to destroy the Ukraine and eliminate their culture in the process,


Since the world at large is not terribly interested jn the affairs of a small country wedged in somewhere between Russia and Iran, a bit of background information is needed to place this film in its proper context. Until 1989 both Armenia and neighoring Azerbaijan were satellite  Russian republics. (SSRs) -- When the USSR collapsed in 1989 both declared their independence and have been in conflict ever since. The main bone of contention between them has been a  small piece of disputed territory know in Russian as Nagorno-Karabakh, but as Artsakh to the Armenians, who have roots there going back to ancient times. In the past Armenia has defeated Azerbaijan in two short wars, enabling them to hold on to their traditional territory as an independent state.

On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan, this time backed heavily by Turkey, attacked Artsakh and, affter 44 days of war were able to seize and occupy a considerable part of the independent region.  Many Armenians forced from their homes fled to the closest part of Armenia proper, the southernmost Province of Syunik.  

Here, in the town of Goris,  Essam conducted interviews with many Armenian refugees, predominantly women, many of whom had lost sons and/or husbands in the war,

These interviews form the backbone of the film, set against archival war footage and expert geopolitical commentary with maps, exposing the Turkish plan to establish a 

Pan-Turkic superstate that would extend into central Asia and obliterate Armenia completely.  Frightening,  appalling,  to say the least .

As for the film itself, it has a spare running time of 73 minutes, but is so fully packed with emotion and information that it feels more like 73 hours ... almost endless, because this story is far from over and moreover, a grim  reminder  -- a kind of wake-up call - that not only is the very survival  of Armenia at stake, but that Erdogan's ambitions of establishing a  Pan-Turkic  Islamic superstate that would run from Turkey itself all across central  Asia as far as China -- is a looming threat to all of western civilization.

The main thorn in the side of this sinister Turkish Master Plan is the dogged existence of the miniscule Christian republic of Armenia, lying directly between  Turkey and Turkish speaking Azerbaijan, thus blocking the road to central 

In the 2020 war which broke out on September 27,  Turkey supplied the Azeris with sophisticared weaponry such as drones, which ultimately turned the tide, and helped recruit Syrian mercenaries to be used as cannon fodder.  In a conflict that the Armenians thought would last only a few days before the invaders were repulsed, but went on for many bloody weeks,  5000 Armenian soldiers died and droves of of civilia families had to flee from their homes to the safety of Syunik, the southern most province o Armenia proper.  During interviews with such refugees, mostly women of various ages, all  of the above misery is recounted and  reiterated in heart rending testimony.  Director Nagy keeps coming back however, to the  testimony of one young soldier who had a leg blown off while clearing a minefield. Even so injured he managed to continue  his mission and survived the war.   

What is most usual is that this  film is the work of a foreigner, not an Armenian ...

 Essam Nagy, now 46, is an Egyptian Christian from Cairo. His interest and passionate attraction to Armenia goes back to age 16 when he was befriended by an Armenian survivor  of the Genocide in Turkey who was operating a camera shop in Cairo.  Ever since interest in Armenia has dominated his entire adult life and  finally brought him to Syunik to report on the war. On stage at the screening he stated: "I am Egyptian by nationality, but an Armenian by choice"! -- which elicited a roar of approval

                                              A statement at the end of the film 


Marisya Mavtevosyan, 74, is something of a festival  fixture having attended every single one since inception of the festival in 2004. Moreover, she is a very well informed Armenian film buff . When Marisya talks people listen.  During the Q and A following the screening she got up and delivered a ten minute commentary on the film and its significance, particularly praising director Essam for his focus on women. Again, enthusiastic applause.

On stage Essam introduced  the heroic soldier who lost a leg while defusing mines.

His arrival greeted with a tremendous chorus of ARTSAKH, ARTSAKH, ARTSAKH !!!

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