The evening will be a multimedia showcase featuring a screening of Aliens Among Us, a short documentary by Martina Radwan, and a concert by the film's composer, Eric V. Hachikian, who will perform the piano trio Voyage to Amasia.
Home can be a very fragile place. An imagined place. Or a place of imagination.
Aliens Among Us explores the idea of "home" through interviews with Arabs and Muslims who tried to build a life in the United States. Their sense of home unraveled when Attorney General Ashcroft announced the Special Registration Program, which created an environment of fear and harassment, making them "guilty by association" if they hailed from a suspected terrorist country.
With a new administration in place, there is a sense that these dark days have passed, but more and more, it becomes clear that the laws implemented under Bush still apply to those seeking refuge here and were extended to American citizens.
Martina Radwan gives the silenced members of our community here, in New York City, a voice by taking a poetic look at the lives of the Arabs and Muslims who live under the constant threat of deportation to countries that some have never even visited.
Like those she speaks with in her film, Radwan calls several places home. In addition to her native and her chosen homes, she includes the country of her father. She knows it only from stories, but it gives her a sense of belonging. It's her chosen country, however, that gives her identity.
Voyage to Amasia was inspired by a desire to return to a home that no longer exists. It is a mystical, musical journey created in 2004.
Amasya is the city, now located in Turkey, where composer Eric V. Hachikian's grandmother, Helen Shushan, was born, and from where she fled, during the Armenian Genocide when she was only 40 days old. Growing up with his grandmother's stories, Eric dreamt of returning with her to her homeland. When she died, without ever having returned to Amasia, Eric wrote Voyage to Amasia to celebrate his grandmother's life and to thank her for the gifts of music and Armenian culture. The composition premiered to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall in January 2005. In the piece, Eric further explores his passion for melding his Armenian heritage with his classical training as a composer. Set in a context of a traditional four movement piano trio, each section expresses a different part of the composer's imagined journey with his grandmother to Amasya.
Following the Carnegie concert, Hachikian teamed up with filmmaker Randy Bell, with the idea to make VOYAGE TO AMASIA a feature-length documentary about the Armenian Genocide, using the piano trio as its narrative backbone The filmmakers followed Hachikian's family's exile march from Amasya to Malatya, and traced their path to Istanbul. The film is currently in production, and will be finished by Fall 2009. www.voyagetoamasia.com.