Aurora's Sunrise

  • Sundance
  • Rotterdam
  • HotDocs

She is a best-selling author, a Hollywood sensation, a teenage survivor of Armenian genocide.
She is Aurora Madriganian, the girl who brought her people’s tragedy to the world.




90 min


Inna Sahakyan


Los Angeles, 1919, Hollywood’s Golden Age. Posters of Auction of Souls, the first blockbuster about Armenian genocide, were seen across the streets of the metropolis. The film became a box office success, a sensation with profits around 30 million dollars. Aurora Madriganian – the film is based on her best-selling autobiographical book – also played the leading role. It is the start of her Hollywood career, it is her will to tell the world of the atrocities she witnessed under the Ottoman Empire during World War I.


Born in the Turkish province of Tunceli, Aurora lost her family and her homeland as a teenage girl, when in 1915 the young Turkish regime began to get rid of “treacherous nationalities”. Millions of Christian Armenians were killed, among them Aurora’s father and brother in front of her eyes. She herself was kidnapped by slave traders during the death march in the Syrian desert, then sold to a Turkish harem. Only her fighting spirit saved her from death. She escaped to St. Petersburg in Revolutionary Russia and immigrated to the United States later.


Aurora’s Sunrise will be composed of three different visual elements: documentary footage (interviews, archive material), animation and exclusive excerpts from Auction of Souls. The film is considered lost. Only several years ago, a 20-minute cut was discovered in an old Russian archive.


The film tells the story of a refugee, a survivor and an activist in Hollywood whose life ended in 1994 in Los Angeles where she is buried with dozens of others in a pauper’s grave. This work is the rediscovery of the patroness of the international Aurora Prize for outstanding humanitarian work, co-chaired by George Clooney, whose wife Amal Alamuddin represented Armenia to fight for the recognition of genocide at the European Court of Human Rights in 2015. The genocide is still being denied by Erdoğan’s government.

Inna Sahakyan

Written by
Inna Sahakyan, Kerstin Meyer-Beetz, Peter Liakhov

Ruben Ghazaryan

Christine Aufderhaar

Additional composition
Andranik Berberyan, Garegin Arakelyan/Gata Band

Art Director
Tigran Arakelyan

Lead Illustrator
Gediminas Skyrius

Lead Animation
Šarūnas Vyštartas, Tigran Arakelyan

Lead Character Artist
Rimas Valeikis

Jan Holzer, Tigran Kuzikyan

Creative Producer
Kerstin Meyer-Beetz

Vardan Hovhannisyan, Christian Beetz, Justė Michailinaitė, Kęstutis Drazdauskas, Eric Esrailian, Inna Sahakyan

The Cleaners
88 min
  • „Just in diesem Moment überraschen uns die aus dem Theaterbereich stammenden jungen Regisseure Hans Block und Moritz Riesewieck mit einem erstaunlichen Dokumentarfilm, der seit Monaten Publikum und Kritik auf den wichtigsten Festivals der Welt elektrisiert. Völlig zu Recht: Es ist, als würden einem die Scheuklappen weggerissen, als sähe man das, was sich seit Jahren direkt vor unseren Augen abspielt, zum ersten Mal unverschleiert... eine fesselnde ,Doku noir' mit höchstem Anspruch...Dieser Film müsste an allen Schulen gezeigt werden.“
    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


In co-production with

  • Creative EU Media
  • ancine
  • BRDE
  • FSA
  • ProPublica
  • NRW
  • Blue Ice