Burbank Library Hosts Screening And Discussion About Armenians In America

"What Will Become of Us" documentary film will be the focus of the final "Burbank Reads" event of 2022 on October 27 at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library. (Image Courtesy Burbank Public Library)

As the Burbank Public Library’s annual Burbank Reads program draws to a close, the final event focuses on a screening of the documentary feature What Will Become of Us, an examination of life and purpose as an Armenian-American in contemporary times, along with a discussion following the film on Thursday evening, October 27.

Co-Director and Producer Stephanie Ayanian and Co-Director and Director of Photography Joseph Myers will participate in a live panel discussion, along with local Armenian scholar, Dr. Shushan Karapetian of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies.

“The theme of this year’s Burbank Reads is ‘community and belonging,'” commented Librarian Hubert Kozak. “The documentary What Will Become of Us looks at issues about tradition and identity that are being discussed within the Armenian-American community today.”

“This is an event that we hope will be of interest to not only the local Armenian community, but one that will give others here in Burbank an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their neighbors,” he added.

“We created What Will Become of Us to share the stories of what Armenians have become in America 100 years after the Armenian Genocide of 1915,” explained Producer/Co-Director Stephanie Ayanian. “As a granddaughter of Genocide survivors, I wanted to share a new perspective.”

“While the Genocide serves as the foundation for why many of us are in America, it is not all that defines us. In our film, Professor Khatchig Mouradian says, ‘Genocide always casts a long shadow. The greatest challenge for any community that has gone through a genocide is to be able to come out of that shadow.'”

“While Armenians have emerged from the shadow and woven themselves into the fabric of communities across the United States, the highest concentrations of Armenians in America are in Southern California, including Burbank,” she also said.

“We look forward to screening What Will Become of Us at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Library to share these stories and also open a community dialogue with our panelists. While the title poses the question of ‘what will become of us,’ the answer in America is positive—Armenians have tremendous opportunities here.”

“However, every Armenian questions the future of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh as they continue to face war against Azerbaijan, losing thousands of lives and land, including their homes, towns, and cultural sites,” Ayanian continued. “Join us as we talk about the making of the film, Armenian communities in America, and the current state of affairs in the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh.”

“I’m not Armenian. I’m a Jewish American.  What struck me in making this film is the extraordinary passion that Armenians in America have for their culture. Without exception, their passion drew me in – and always made me feel welcome,” commented Myers. “Their dedication to a bright future for Armenians everywhere is impressive. Equally impressive is their immigrant story, their American story, and their contributions to this country. It was an honor to be able to work on this project.”

In the film What Will Become of Us,  the characters navigate the U.S. in the context of their identities and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide through a collection of interwoven stories.

“This is a story relatable to all immigrant communities who have faced past horrors. How can a culture pay respect to its past without being limited by it? How can a culture give individuals the freedom to define their own identities and collectively forge a hopeful future?” according to the film’s producers. “This is not a film about genocide, but about how to thrive despite it.”

The annual Burbank Public Library program Burbank Reads promotes the idea “that the shared act of reading can bring a community together.”

The screening and discussion will be held at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library from 7:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, 2022.

For more information on the event, visit the Burbank Public Library event page.

The Buena Vista Branch of Burbank Public Library is located at is located at 300 N. Buena Vista Street. Plentiful free parking is available on site.