The story of Aurora Mardiganian is a remarkable one. A survivor of the Armenian genocide of 1915, she saw her family slaughtered, she was kidnapped by bandits and sold into a Turkish harem before escaping, first to St. Petersburg, itself in the throes of violent political upheaval, then to America. She was still a teenager when her story, serialised in a newspaper, caught the attention of Hollywood and she found herself the star of Auction Of Souls, a 1919 silent film based on her experiences, which became a sensation. The animated documentary Aurora’s Sunrise combines some of the remaining fragments of Auction Of Souls, which was long feared to be lost, with archive footage of interviews with Aurora in later life, excerpts from her autobiography and the participation of the Zoryan Institute, which has collated oral histories of 20th century events which have slipped from the collective consciousness.
Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
The connective tissue comes thanks to striking storybook animation. Imagine Atom Egoyan’s Ararat conjured through the lens of Tahir Rana and Éric Warin’s Charlotte with a dose of Flee. Aurora’s Sunrise uses the power of animation to represent the erasure of lives and history. Where there are no photographs or records to represent the lives of family members, friends, and neighbours who were slaughtered, the animation finds more power in imagining what official records cannot provide.
Pat Mullen, POV Magazine