Two filmmakers from Los Angeles, CA, Edwin Avaness and Serj Minassian, have committed themselves to the creation of a feature length documentary “Epic Denied” on Edward Minasian’s book “Musa Dagh”, which is about the events and personalities involved in the saga of 74 year struggle to make a movie based on Franz Werfel’s novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.
Edward Minasian first read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh as a nineteen year old serving in World War II. That experience, combined with discovering more about his own family history as survivors of the Armenian Genocide, led him to the life-long search for answers.
His book, Musa Dagh, traces the trials and tribulations of Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh in Hollywood. The book is an original work and the first to deal with the historic controversy on Werfel’s masterpiece stirred since its publication in the United States in 1934. MGM Studios first announced their desire to produce the film in May, 1934. At the time, some of the actors and actresses considered for the leading roles were Alain Delon, William Powell, Dahlia Lavi, Audrey Hepburn, Warren Beatty, Sophia Loren, and Clark Gable. However the movie never materialized due to political pressure from the Turkish government. Until today it has become the most on-again and off-again motion picture production in Hollywood history.
The two filmmakers, Edwin Avaness and Serj Minassian, write on their website that they are confident that with their experience and a solid list of committed experts on the subject matter, they will be able to tell a compelling story and unveil the truth behind an epic that was denied numerous opportunities to see its glory on the silver screen.
The aim of the “Epic Denied. Depriving the forty days of Musa Dagh” is to give audiences a unique look at the controversy surrounding the novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and the unprecedented political maneuverings by foreign forces to halt the production of the motion picture. The documentary will explore such factors as conspiracy, complicity, collusion, and blatant censorship in the context of Hollywood’s history and infringement of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by a foreign power.
Award winning filmmakers, Edwin Avaness and Serj Minassian began their film careers with Arpa Foundation for Film, Music, & Art, both were also awarded the Audience Award, at the Milan International Film Festival for a movie they co-produced, The Journey (2003).