“It all started in a Women’s rights workshop in Yerevan while reading from Zabel Yesayan we realized that our local participants knew very little about the author” said Talin Suciyan, the co-producer of the film “Finding Zabel Yesayan”. She added that “We, as Western Armenians did not know about her life in Soviet Armenia. It’s weird that her name was not next to Bakunts, Mahari, Charents - all victims of the Stalinist purges. Yet,- Talin asserted,- Zabel was the very outstanding woman writer of her time. She was assigned to report on the 1909 Adana pogroms, was on the list of Armenian intellectuals to be exiled during the early days of the Genocide, took refuge in Bulgaria, went to the Caucasus, lived in Paris and repatriated to Soviet Armenia in 1932…”
The film on Zabel Yesayan was featured at Haigazian University on Tuesday, March 8 to an audience who had made it through a very windy and rainy day. Talin noted that with co-director Lara Aharonian they tried to bridge this knowledge gap, with no financial support, but a lot of enthusiasm and technical help from the Utopiana Center at Yerevan.
Their enthusiasm was welcomed. They had access to the personal items of Yesayan safeguarded at the Charents Museum of Literature and Arts, and to the sound recordings of Zabel’s son in the National Archives. They interviewed Zabel’s grandson and great-granddaughter. These enabled them to reconstruct parts and elaborate some philosophical aspects of her life. Both Vartan Azatyan, an art historian, and Prof. Marc Nchanian, a literary critic, contemplated on Zabel’s ability to detach herself from the human catastrophes she went through and write about them after a short time lapse. They commented that Zabel had constructed a utopic area in her mind that she took refuge in during difficult times. This safe haven seemed to be her childhood in the district of Gardens of Silihdar. They concluded that for Zabel Soviet Armenia was eventually the safe, utopic area where she detached herself from the tragedies of the past, departed even from her childhood and wrote her wonderful literary piece The Gardens of Silihdar, yet faced her unsafe and tragic end.