Aurora’s Sunrise, directed by Inna Sahakyan is the story of Aurora, a teenager when she loses 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 traumatized 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.