She survived the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and escaped to New York – “Aurora’s Sunrise” on POV – Oct. 23 at 10 pm

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POV Tracks A Survivor’s Journey From Devastation to the Red Carpet in

“Aurora’s Sunrise”

Monday, October 23 at 10:00 pm


Multi Emmy® Awards and Peabody Award winning series POV recounts the harrowing tale of Aurora, a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide, who lost her family, fled slavery and after escaping to America becomes the face of a massive humanitarian campaign, in the semi-animated documentary, Aurora’s Sunrise. Based on the real-life story of Arshaluys (aka Aurora) Mardiganian, director Inna Sahakyan’s film focuses on five years of her life; on the events shortly before-, during and after the genocide. Aurora’s Sunrise, an Armenian-German-Lithuanian co-production, is the first-ever animated documentary film made in Armenia, and was Armenia’s official selection for the 95th Academy® Awards “Best International Feature Film” category. The documentary was produced by Vardan Hovhannisyan, Christian Beetz, Juste Michailinaite, Kestutis Drazdauskas, Eric Esrailian and Sahakyan.

In a white flowing gown and a flower crown, Aurora dances with her sister in a performance for her parents. She holds a smiling sun mask next to her face. Her family home is the background — the scene alternates between her home before the genocide and after.
In a white flowing gown and a flower crown, Aurora dances with her sister in a performance for her parents.

Aurora’s Sunrise will make its national broadcast premiere on Monday, October 23, 2023 at 10pmET/9C (check local listings) and will be available to stream until January 23, 2023 at, and the PBS App. In addition to standard closed captioning for the film, POV, in partnership with audio description serviceDiCapta, provides real time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities. POV, currently in its 36th season, is America’s longest running non-fiction television series.

Director Inna Sahakyan said: “Anne Frank once said: ‘What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it from happening again.’ Aurora’s story happened more than 100 years ago, but sadly the world did not change. Genocides and wars take place today in Ukraine, in Syria, and – very heavy for me personally – in Armenia. Right now more than 120,000 Armenians in Artsakh, known internationally as Nagorno Karabakh, have been besieged for over 8 months now face starvation and ethnic cleansing. I know that this sounds naive and too optimistic, but after watching this film, I hope people will not just learn, but feel and embrace the lessons from the past. And that it will help persuade individual minds not to be pushed into participating in yet more wars and genocides. That way, I would feel all that Aurora did was not in vain.”

Chris White, Executive Producer POV and America ReFramed said: “We’re proud to share this remarkable story of resilience and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. Inna Sahakyan’s imaginative interpretation of lived trauma brings into sharp focus the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and its rippling effect on descendants. The film honors the life of Aurora Madriganian and all survivors of war and raises awareness of historical atrocities we hope to never see again.”

Aurora walks through barren mountains in the death march holding her brother close to her. They are wearing dirty, tattered clothes, and are escorted by soldiers.
Aurora walks through barren mountains in the death march holding her brother close to her.

In 1915, as WWI raged on, the Ottoman Empire singled out its entire Armenian population for destruction. At only 14 years old, Aurora Mardiganian was forced to a death march towards the Syrian desert. There, she lost her entire family before being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Four years later, through luck and extraordinary courage, she escaped to New York, where her odyssey became a media sensation. Her newfound fame led to her starring as herself in the 1919 silent film, Auction of Souls, based on her published memoir, Ravished Armenia. Directed by Oscar Apfel, the film became one of Hollywood’s earliest blockbusters.

As the massacres in Armenia continued, Aurora was engulfed by waves of re-lived trauma whipped up by the callous Hollywood publicity machine. In the hope of saving her people, she was one of the first women activists fighting against the injustices of war. Because of her efforts, she became the face of one of the largest charity campaigns in American history.

Aurora’s Sunrise premiered in competition at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2022 and then became a festival favorite winning more than 10 awards, including the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2022 for Best Animated Film, Movies that Matter 2023 Audience Award and Special Mention Winner, Audience Favorites at IDFA 2022, Audience Awards at Animation is Film 2022 and FIFDH Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights 2023 for Grand Prix, among others.

Press Quotes:

“The film’s coherence is a reflection of both the skill of the filmmaker, and the heroic efforts of Aurora herself to ensure that her view of history would not be forgotten.”
-Teo Bugbee, The New York Times

“A reminder that film doesn’t just record history, it can transport us through it.”
-Brian Tallerico,

Aurora’s Sunrise is resolutely her tale, but its storybook aesthetic evokes the loss of innocence. It makes the tragedy doubly piercing.”
– Pat Mullen, POV Magazine