For Immediate Release
Monday, August 1, 2022
Renowned Producer, Peter Bahlawanian Teams Up With The Acclaimed Producers Of ‘Motherland’ Documentary Feature Film In Time For Its Screening, Co-Sponsored By Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian, Senator Anthony Portantino, And Assemblymember Laura Friedman
The One-Night-Only Screening of ‘Motherland,’ on Thursday, August 4, 7:00 PM, at Laemmle Theaters Glendale will Follow With A Q&A, Moderated by Mayor Kassakhian
LOS ANGELES— following the premiere of ‘Motherland’ on July 7, at the Raleigh Studios Hollywood, Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian championed and co-sponsored the upcoming special screening of ‘Motherland’ in Glendale. Senator Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Laura Friedman also came on board as the co-sponsors of the one-night-only event. Mayor Kassakhian will moderate a Q&A with the director, writer, and producer of ‘Motherland,’ Vic Gerami.
Renowned producer and philanthropist, Peter Bahlawanian has teamed up with the acclaimed producers of Motherland, a much-anticipated, feature-length documentary film that’s expected to blow the lid off of Azerbaijan’s concerted campaign of violence, deception, and burgeoning genocide against the Armenian civilians of Artsakh.
Bahlawanian will assume the role of associate producer for the film. His extraordinary work in the industry and activism with various organizations makes him a uniquely qualified and dynamic new member of the Motherland team. A true Renaissance man, Bahlawanian is the founder of the Armenian Music Awards, the Human Rights Film Festival of America, and Diaspora Films.
Bahlawanian, who attended the premiere, said the following about the film, ‘Insightful and disturbing, so much information in this documentary, you want to watch it again and again.’
Produced and directed by Los Angeles-based Armenian American journalist and activist Vic Gerami, ‘Motherland’ is a new feature-length documentary film about the genocidal assault and the violent ethnic cleansing unleashed on September 27, 2020, by Azerbaijan and Turkey on the Republic of Artsakh. The 120-minute documentary film focuses unwavering attention on the coordinated, systematic, and wholly unprovoked genocidal attack and ethnic cleansing against the Armenians of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.
‘I’m ecstatic and grateful to have someone of Peter Bahlawanian’s caliber join our team,’ said Gerami. He added, ‘I’ve been a fan of Peter’s work and extraordinary accomplishments through the years, so to have him on our team is very special.’
Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian advocated for his city’s screening of ‘Motherland.’ Mayor Kassakhian is not a newcomer to public service and activism. He’s been a member of Glendale’s city council for two years and held the elected position of City Clerk for some 15 years. ‘Motherland’ is the second film about Artsakh that ‘Jewel City’s Mayor has supported and made sure the public sees. He attended the film premiere on July 7, at the Raleigh Studios Hollywood.
‘I’ve watched Motherland, and I believe it should be viewed by anyone who cares about defending human rights,’ said Kassakhian. He continued, ‘This is the film that Azerbaijan’s leaders don’t want you to see, which is why it’s an honor to support the documentary team and Vic Gerami by hosting a screening in Glendale.’
Kassakhian has kept his campaign promise to use his platform as an elected official representing one of the highest concentrations of Armenian Americans in the United States. He vowed to educate and inform people about what is happening in Artsakh and the help his compatriots need to be able to survive under some very dire circumstances-the threat of continuous attack, harassment, displacement, and ethnic cleansing.’
‘Mayor Kassakhian has been a true believer and a patron for ‘Motherland’ since its inception, and for that, I’m immensely grateful. His support throughout the last one and a half years has been invaluable, and I’m thrilled to show the film in the city of Glendale and have him moderate a Q&A following the screening,’ said filmmaker Vic Gerami.
Senator Anthony Portantino, who represents California’s 25th State Senate District, also sponsors the landmark event. He’s been a longtime supporter of the community. Along with hosting the Armenian Select Committee in his district, Portantino supports the Armenian community through various legislations, securing funds and assistance, condemning violence, and spreading awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
‘I am proud to co-sponsor the Glendale screening of ‘Motherland,’ a documentary about the unprovoked, large-scale attack on Artsakh by Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces in September 2020. Thank you for raising awareness about the consequences of the 44-Day War while highlighting the resiliency of the Armenian people,’ said Senator Portantino.
‘Senator Portantino’s support means a great deal as he’s been an advocate, an ally, and a friend to the Armenian community,’ said Gerami.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman represents La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Glendale, Burbank, and neighboring communities in the 43rd Assembly District. The Assemblymember has been a longtime advocate for her more than 100,000 Armenian-American constituents, first as a Glendale City Councilmember, and now as a State Assembly Member. She traveled to Armenia and Artsakh in 2017 and has advocated for the continued recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
‘I have and will always stand in solidarity with the Armenian people. In 2020 old wounds began to open as a vicious war was launched against the Armenian people of Artsakh amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the war having ended, Armenia’s neighbors continue their aggressive tactics,’ said Assemblymember Friedman. She continued, ‘This film shines a bright light on the injustice suffered by the Armenian people and honors their strength and solidarity. In doing so, it reminds us all, that recognizing the Armenian Genocide is crucial to combat the hate and violence being perpetrated against the Armenian nation. I commend Vic Gerami and his colleagues for documenting this atrocity in ‘Motherland’ and for helping bring awareness of the invasion of Artsakh in 2020 to a worldwide audience.’
Assemblymember Friedman’s patronage of ‘Motherland’ completes a powerful circle, along with Glendale’s Mayor and State Senator.
‘It’s a privilege to have Assemblymember Friedman support ‘Motherland’ and our effort to bring the film to Glendale audiences. She has been unequivocal about her support for Artsakh and what happened in 2020. That’s very important at a time when many elected officials play bothsideism and practice politics of respectability,’ said Vic Gerami.
About Peter Bahlawanian
Peter Bahlawanian is an award-winning producer/director with over 30 years of experience in almost every aspect of the entertainment industry, notably the creator of the Armenian Music Awards, the Human Rights Film Festival of America, and Diaspora Films. Peter is a grandchild of orphans of the Armenian genocide and an active force in protecting the Armenian culture through music, art, and film.
About Mayor Ardy Kassakhian
Born in Boston, MA, Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian’s family moved to Glendale in 1986. He is the product of Glendale schools, having attended John Marshall and R.D. White Elementary schools, Wilson Middle School, and Glendale High School (’ 94).
Prior to his election to City Council, Kassakhian served as the elected City Clerk for Glendale for 15 years having been elected and re-elected four times by Glendale’s voters. Before assuming elected office, he was the Director of Government Relations and later the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for issues of interest and concern for Armenian Americans.
Kassakhian had previously worked in government relations and public affairs for clients in various public and private sectors with the firm Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger.
Councilmember Kassakhian graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He received his Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. More recently, he attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and successfully completed the Certificate Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. He is also an alumnus of the Coro Public Affairs Fellowship.
Councilmember Kassakhian was appointed by the California Senate Rules Committee to serve on the California New Motor Vehicle Board and to the Language Accessibility Advisory Committee by Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Councilmember Kassakhian is an adjunct instructor of Political Science at Glendale Community College. He and his wife Courtney live in the Pelanconi neighborhood of Glendale with their son.
Councilmember Kassakhian serves as the Vice Chair of the Glendale Housing Authority and was appointed to serve as Glendale’s representative on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors as well as to the California Contract Cities Association.
About Senator Anthony Portantino
Senator Anthony Portantino represents California’s 25th State Senate District, which stretches along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland. He proudly represents the Rose Bowl, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Griffith Park, Warner Brothers, Disney, Caltech and the Claremont Colleges.
Supporting public education, mental health, and sensible gun control have been priorities for Senator Portantino during his time in office. His accomplishments include increasing funding for special education and the K-12 Local Control Funding Formula. He has authored legislation that created California’s umbilical cord blood collection program, pushed back school start time for middle and high schools, banned the open carry of handguns on Main Street California, raised the purchase age of firearms to 21, and placed the suicide hotline number on student identification cards. In addition, his efforts have created a science fellowship in the State Capitol and established a unique partnership between the University of California and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
He personally negotiated the end of the 710-freeway tunnel with the Brown administration and authored SB 7, which formally ended the threat of the freeway, protected the non-profits in the corridor, and paved the way for Pasadena to develop the dormant freeway stub.
Senator Portantino currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a Select Committee to foster trade between California, Armenia and Artsakh.
Prior to his years as a representative, he spent many years working in film and television production, served on the California Film Commission, and spent nearly eight years on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, with two terms as Mayor. In 2019, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Award at a ceremony in the historic island’s great hall.
Senator Portantino grew up in New Jersey, where he attended public schools and graduated from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Ellen, a longtime business executive in the entertainment industry. They have two daughters.
About Assemblymember Laura Friedman
Laura Friedman was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2016 to represent the 43rd Assembly District, which encompasses the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and La Cañada Flintridge, as well as the communities of La Crescenta and Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Beachwood Canyon, Los Feliz, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, and Silver Lake.
Laura’s legislative work is focused in three primary areas: addressing the housing affordability and homelessness crisis, combating climate change, and protecting vulnerable communities. During her time in the Assembly, Laura has secured $30 million in funding for the completion of the Glendale Riverwalk Project, and authored a package of bills to create new avenues for communities to tackle the affordable housing crisis, encourage water conservation, strengthen environmental sustainability, protect communities against devastating wildfires, improve access to higher education and health care, and ensure that California’s foster youth have the support that they need as they transition to adulthood.
Laura has been tapped for several leadership roles in the legislature, including the Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, Assistant Speaker pro Tempore for the Assembly, the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and the Chair of the Joint Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response where she’s led a historic bicameral and bipartisan reform of the legislature’s response to sexual harassment that’s become a model for other states and local governments to follow.
Long recognized as a steadfast advocate for the environment, sustainable communities, and active transportation, in 2020 she was appointed to serve as the Chair for the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Her appointment as Chair marks a shift towards forward-thinking policies such as investing in mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, zero-emission vehicles, road safety, and sustainability. She has championed data-driven transportation policy that focuses on the link between housing and transportation, and improving road safety for all users, including landmark legislation to provide local communities with greater flexibility to set speed limits on their roadways.
In addition to her role at the helm of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Laura also serves as Chair of the bicameral Environmental Caucus, and as a member of the Assembly Committees on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media; Budget; Natural Resources; Water, Parks, and Wildlife; and the Budget Subcommittee on Climate Crisis, Resources, Energy, and Transportation.
Laura got her start in the private sector working as a film and television executive and producer after receiving her B.A. from the University of Rochester, New York. Building on her years of community service, she was elected to the Glendale City Council in 2009, served as Mayor from 2011 through 2012 and was re-elected in 2013.
About Vic Gerami
Vic Gerami is an award-winning journalist, columnist, media commentator, and the host of his prime-time headline news + politics radio program THE BLUNT POST with VIC (TBPV) on Independent + Progressive Radio KPFK 90.7 FM (Pacifica Network). Vic is also the editor + publisher of The Blunt Post.
Today reaching national and international audiences, Gerami first built a foundation of knowledge and skills by learning about the media industry during his years at Frontiers Magazine, followed by positions at LA Weekly and Voice Media Group.
Gerami’s radio program, TBPV covers national, regional, and local headline news, politics, and current events, and Gerami offers analysis and commentary. He also interviews a high-profile member of Congress or other high-profile public figures on each show. His recent guests include Congressman Adam Schiff, Senator Bob Menendez, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Governor Howard Dean, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Congressman Brad Sherman, Congressman Mike Levin, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Judy Chu, LA District Attorney George Gascon, among many others. You can listen to all the interviews here.
Gerami is also a contributor to some of the most prominent publications in the nation, including Windy City Times, Bay Area Reporter, Armenian Mirror-Spectator, The Advocate, The Immigrant Magazine, GoWeHo, Destination Luxury, OUT Traveler, The Fight, and among others.
Gerami founded the Truth And Accountability League (TAAL), a 501©3 non-profit organization that advocates for Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Armenia. TAAL monitors & addresses Armenophobia, extremism & bigotry around the globe on the level of media, including social media, public policy, academia, and intelligentsia.
The Wall Street Journal featured Gerami as a “leading gay activist” in its landmark 2008 coverage of opposition to Proposition 8, the ballot measure that for years denied same-sex couples in California the freedom to marry. In addition to his years of volunteer work as a leading advocate for marriage equality, Gerami served as a Planning Committee member for the historic Resist March in 2017.
In 2015, Gerami was referenced in the landmark Supreme Court civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held in a 5–4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Please click here for more information about Vic Gerami.