Today on this 104th anniversary of the beginning of the massacre of the Armenians, forced out of their homes and into the desert, VisualNoiz TV LLC announces the title of a documentary telling the story of the Boujoulian Gedikian Yazejian families of Adapazar & Bardizag, Ottoman Empire.
The Armenian Spread will follow the escape of Armenians of our village to their new homes around the world. We will invite you for dinner as we explore the traditions of food and family, to take part in the spread, sit down to hear some stories and learn about the struggle and traditions of our people.
It has long been a struggle on how to tell this story. I titled it “Survival” in the late 1990s but something did not click. It should be about more than just the escape into the desert and the circumstances that lead to surviving. I have also called it “The 100 Years Project” as 2015 came and went.
Earlier this year it came to me, the food and the traditions are the story. The horrors of 1915 were just the beginning of the events that lead us to where we are now. The purpose will be keeping the traditions alive for future generations, as well as documenting what happened. Calling it Survival wouldn’t capture what the family means now.
The name The Armenian Spread was inspired by my cousin Randy Gadikian, inviting me over for dinner in Buffalo to meet his sons for the first time.
This project may also have a companion piece, telling the story of more families, as my research has uncovered many tales that should be told beyond my own family history.
This project is a collaboration with many friends and family members. The first of which I can announce is the artist Gregory Drossel (portfolio website) who will be illustrating parts of the story for which we have no photographs or film footage.
I have long admired Greg’s work and look forward to working with him to bring alive components of the story that I cannot tell with existing photographs or film.
This project will take many years to complete but I could not do it without the help of those around me. I thank the Yazejian family, the Gedikians and the Gadikians (you’ll find out why there’s 2 in the doc!) as well as my father Ray, his sister Doris and my late grandparents Armina and Steve Boujoulian, the first ones that let me capture their story, to tell my 1991 class in high school what happened to us, which was what started it all on a VHS camcorder that was too heavy for me to hold steady at the age of 15.
It will be interesting to compare your family details to those of my grandparents. My grandparents on my mom’s side, the Samouelians, both arrived in America as sole survivors as many others. My dad’s side, the Mooradians, have their own story too. We also have family members researching.