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Center for Armenian Studies Events

For previous years' guest speakers and topics, please visit the Center for Armenian Studies poster and flyer archive.

We also encourage you to check out a selection of CAS video recordings on our Videos of Past Events page and on our YouTube channel.

POSTPONED - CAS Film | Aurora's Sunrise - Ann Arbor Screening

Friday, September 29, 2023
12:00-11:00 PM
Off Campus Location
These film screenings have been postponed to a still to-be-determined date later in October. Once we have received the new times from the State Theatre we will post them here. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The Center for Armenian Studies is sponsoring the weeklong Michigan release of Aurora's Sunrise at State Theatre.

Showtimes listed here will be updated as we receive the details. You may also check for updates at:

Director Inna Sahakyan will be in attendance for post-film Q&As on Friday, September 29th at 3:00 & 7:00 PM.

Synopsis: At only 14 years old, Aurora lost everything during the horror of the Armenian genocide. Two years later, through luck and extraordinary courage, she escaped to New York, where her story became a media sensation. Starring as herself in Auction of Souls, an early Hollywood blockbuster, Aurora became the face of one of the largest charity campaigns in American history. With a blend of vivid animation, interviews with Aurora herself, and 18 minutes of surviving footage from her lost silent epic, Aurora's Sunrise revives a forgotten story of survival. Synopsis Aurora was a teenager when she lost her family to the first genocide of the twentieth century, a nightmare that she herself barely survived. But when asked to not just remember but relive this experience all over again, she said “yes”. In 1915, as WWI raged on, the Ottoman Empire singled out its entire Armenian population for destruction. Only 14 years old at the time, Aurora’s story was tragically relatable. Forced onto a death march towards the Syrian desert, she lost her entire family before being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. But through multiple miraculous twists of fate, Aurora was able to use her wits and courage to escape her captors, and find her way to the shores of the United States. Young, beautiful, and with an extraordinary story to tell — the papers quickly found Aurora, and within a year her story of survival was on every newsstand from coast to coast. It didn’t take long for Hollywood to take notice. With little regard for the toll it would take on the traumatised teenager, they convinced Aurora that by bringing her story to the silver screen she would be able to help other survivors of the genocide. And so Aurora relived the unbearable, and became the most improbable starlet of the silent era in Auction of Souls, a runaway success, breaking box office and fundraising campaign records. After the film’s release, one out of every three American families reportedly contributed to the campaign to help the victims of the genocide. With the help of the film, a campaign by the aid group Near East Relief raised $116 million and saved the lives of over 132,000 orphaned survivors. The number of their descendants are in the millions. In the late 1920s, expanding US-Turkish relations caused any mention of the Genocide to fade away. All copies of Auction of Souls were believed to be lost. Only in 1994, several months after Aurora's death, fragments of Auction of Souls were rediscovered. Utilizing a dynamic blend of different mediums, including archival interviews with Aurora herself, as well the restored surviving footage of Aurora’s silent-era blockbuster Aurora’s Sunrise brings Aurora’s incredible story to life for a new generation — the story of how one girl relived her life’s greatest pain to save her people.

"Aurora's Sunrise" was made possible by the academic contribution of the Zoryan Institute and is based on its Oral History Archive.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: State Theatre, 233 South State St., Ann Arbor
Event Type: Film Screening
Tags: armenia, film, International
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Armenian Studies, International Institute
Upcoming Dates: