Documaker Michael Hagopian, who focused on the genocide of Armenians, died Dec. 10 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., of natural causes. He was 97.
Hagopian, himself a survivor of the genocide, made 1975’s Emmy-nommed doc “The Forgotten Genocide,” as well as 1965’s “Where Are My People?” and a trilogy — 2000’s “Voices From the Lake,” 2003’s “Germany and the Secret Genocide” and 2008’s “The River Ran Red,” which won a prize at the New York Film and Video Festival last year.
After fleeing Turkey in 1922 with his family, Hagopian made his way to the U.S. He earned a Ph.D in international relations at Harvard, served in the Army Air Force in WWII and then taught at various universities.
He realized there was a need for educational documentaries and taught himself to shoot film while at the American U. in Beirut. He completed his course work at USC.
He hung his own shingle, the Atlantis Films Co., in 1952 and made 70 educational films and docs including 17 on the Armenian genocide.
His main aim was to refute Turkey’s denial of the genocide, and he included interviews from other survivors in his work. In 1979 he set up the Armenian Film Foundation to preserve the country’s culture.
According to the L.A. Times, Hagopian signed an agreement with Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation in April to digitize, index and disseminate his international interviews on the subject.
“Dr. Hagopian was a vanguard of the Armenian cause — a true inspiration to all touched by his art, his genius and his commitment,” said ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian.
Survivors include his wife, Antoinette; three sons and a daughter; and five grandchildren.