In 2015 I was given a book by a good friend of mine, historian and publisher, Ara Sarafian of Gomidas Institute. The book was by Aram Andonian entitled “Exile, Trauma and Death”, probably the most descriptive title of a book I have read and though it sounds depressing, it was an absolutely fascinating read, describing the journey of the Armenian intellectuals who were arrested on April 24th 1915 and their journey to prison.
I had always been keen to address the issue of the Armenian Genocide, but I didn’t want to go down the traditional documentary or even genocide stories road. I have felt for a long time that the suffering of Armenians, like my Grandparents, experienced first-hand, an imprint that never left them, needed to be shown with the human spirit, the textural fabric of the individual that is lost in facts and stats and arguments about what word you should call the murder of a race, as though somehow that changes anything.
In the book, Taniel is fleetingly mentioned, but what was described about him captivated me about the man. I followed up by scouring online for scarce English translations of his works, a dozen or so that had made the journey from Armenian to French and then to English. I worried about clumsy translations and Chinese whispers, whether the meaning been changed, words twisted or shoehorned by an unworthy poet or writer, but even so what I read was majestic, his understanding of humanity and their feelings, the soul of the animals, and spirit of the plants, rocks and mountains was magical.
“Antasdan” was the first poem that initially drew me in because I felt it was very modern and relevant in today’s tragic political world, but Taniel being Taniel, this was not a poem with just a worldly or political vision, but also a reflection of the act of prayer to all four corners of the the world by the church.
In Taniel’s poetry his combination of themes conjuring up a fresh narrative and his cocky guile to create new words allow him to release his feelings and emotions in microscopic detail.
Taniel was 31 when he was murdered for no other reason than being an Armenian, his young age belies his great talent and vision that still stands strong and keeps his memory alive today.
Garo in his own words
Born in: Chiswick, London
Favourite Colour: Blue (I am a boy!)
Favourite band: Too many: The Prodigy, SOAD, Chemical Brothers
Favourite Director (Classic): Orson Wells, Charlie Chaplin, Sergio Leone
Favourite Director: Wes Anderson, Bas Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino
Favourite film (Classic): Citizen Kane, Modern Times
Favourite film: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Favourite Actor (Classic): Charlie Chaplin
Favourite Actor: Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson
Favourite photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson
The person I’d want to work with: Tarantino
What I’d be doing if not in filmmaking: Photography and growing herbs
What made me want to get into production: Henri Cartier-Bresson
What classic film I’d wanted to work on: The Third Man
Favourite moment in Taniel: First day, first scene, first action