A genocide survivor becomes a silent movie star. Aurora Mardiganian's odyssey is close to unreal, after losing her family, escaping slavery, and enduring Hollywood greed. She journeys far to tell the world of the Armenian Genocide.
“But I wasn’t an actress, I was not acting. I was reliving.”
In 1919, a Hollywood silent film “Auction of Souls” was produced. It was based on the true story of Aurora Mardiganian. She was a teenager who survived the Armenian genocide. It was a box office hit in the early 1920s but soon after all the copies disappeared.
In 1994, several months after Aurora’s death, fragments of “Auction of Souls” were discovered. And this was how the film Aurora’s Sunrise was created.
The film begins in Spring 1915 in Western Armenia. Aurora and her brothers and sisters lead a normal life with their father and mother. They would go swimming in the lake, create plays and perform in front of their father and oldest brother. Life was good.
One day though, a neighbour came to visit them in their home and he told them that Armenians were starting to get gathered up in certain areas and he was sure that they would be next. He told them to go hide in the mountains. Aurora’s father said “If I run, I’d be a coward. If I must die, I’ll die in my own home.”
Turkey aligned themselves with Germany, and a few days later Aurora’s life would never ever be the same. Aurora’s Sunrise is a sad, tragic film that must be told, more. It was based on the systematic destruction of the Armenian people, and identity, during World War I. It caused the mass murder of around one million Armenians, mostly through death marches around the Syrian desert. Aurora’s survival is nothing short of a miracle and the re-telling of her life is miraculous. It’s super important to continue to bring awareness to these mass killings that have been mostly kept hidden from the public.