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As I expected, upon reading Three Apples he fell in love.
I found Micheline’s contact information and called her.
I was speechless, thoughtless, and all I could do was walk. Looking at the earth beneath my feet and all the sorrow it held, all that it had accepted and given a final resting place to. Standing by a mound of dirt, I watched as she pulled a piece of an arm out of the side of a hill, and then I watched it crumble. I brought back bones, and my boyfriend still proposed to me. I also needed to pick up my recently granted Armenian citizenship. In my passion, I needed a partner to take this dream and turn it into a reality. In Buddhism, we talk of turning poison into medicine.
I landed in Yerevan with a mission and one contact that my amazing co-producer Alex Kalagnomos had given me: the lovely Madlene Minassian and her wonderful husband, Arthur Ispirian. In early July, fate introduced me to that partner in the lobby of the Ani hotel. Who told me, “God put you in my path, and me in yours.” For whom this film is a mission. So, beyond being a film, the telling of this story is activism. But at the end of this march, what awaits us is not the inhospitable deserts of Mesopotamia. We are healing through storytelling, with grace, passion, and love. I am walking with my great-grandmother Lucine on my shoulders.
And everything in the world that I want to do is not amot.
In the summer of 1998 in between the two courses, I began reading her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I had the habit of spending whole days reading in the aisles of bookstores, and one afternoon a book caught my eye that would change the course of my life.
The house where I was given the stories of my ancestors, where I first heard of places like Aintab, Urfa, and Kharpert. We drove five hours, passed Ras ul Ayn (where tens of thousands of Armenians were massacred) and went south into the desert. Walked around the sand dunes unsure of what we were doing or looking for. Our friend Hrag Varjabedian asked in Arabic if there were still bones where we were. To bring to reality the mythic place where darkness had transpired in some sinister childhood story I was told. And I believe choosing love is always the better choice. This pain was tremendous, because it was the breakup of a family.I read an excerpt about baby Dikran, left beneath a tree on the march to the Der Zor.I couldn’t believe the beauty of the prose I was reading. A few months later I met Micheline at a reading at Abril Bookstore in Los Angeles. It would be another two years before I would contact Micheline again, this time about a film adaptation I wanted to make.Micheline and I had read the articles of the journalist Robert Fisk, and based on those we went to the Der Zor desert. On this drive, watching the barren, beige vista and imagining the Armenians walking, my mind went to my sensitive feet. Were my sensitive feet connected to a past life experience? The boy nonchalantly squatted down and picked up a handful of dirt, speckled with tiny pieces of white. I’ll never forget the first time I searched for it on a map. The summer of 2012 I knew I needed to go to Armenia to begin in earnest to lay down the groundwork of the film adaptation of Three Apples. There they were, after 92 years under the Mesopotamian sun. My trip coincided with the Golden Apricot Film Festival.