PeŇ Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian

Documentary Film makers


Back To Ararat



I hate dogs
My Dad - The Inspector
Where Lies My Victory?
From Opium To Crysanthemums
Words and Stones Ghaza 2000
Her Armenian Prince
Unsafe Ground
Back To Ararat
Ghaza Ghetto
Image from the film

Year: 1988

Awards: Red Ribbon at American Film and Video Festival Chicago, "Guldbaggen" - Best Swedish Film of 1988.

" A documentary film made by PeA Holmquist in cooperation with Jim Downing, Suzanne Khardalian, Göran Gunner and Göran Gunér ."

Back to Ararat was the first feature length documentary to tell the story of the first genocide of the 20th century. It happened 1915 when 1,5 million Armenians were killed and an entire nation was driven from its land by the Turks. The film has been shown on many festivals and won many prizes . It was also shown on many TV-stations. Around the world Turkish representative tried to stop the film. The film is still today distributed in many countries.

Why back to Ararat?

It was May 29th, 1985, the day of my documentary film Gaza Ghetto about the Palestinians premiered in the United States. After the movie, a young, dark-haired man approached me and said: "Now it's time for you to make a movie about us, the Armenians.". That is how I met Raffy, one of the main persons we meet in Back to Ararat. During the unforgettable and intensive days that followed, Raffy led me around New York, introducing me to the survivors to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Ten yars earlier, I and author and nonconformist minister Goran Gunner had met our first Armenians in Jerusalem when I began making films about the Palestine Question. We discussed making a movie about the Armenians, but nobody was interested in financing such a project. When I now met these aged survivors in New York in 1985, I felt the same anger as ten years before. Anger over the fact that nobody - neither school nor the press, TV, society, politicians, my friends - knew about their bitter history. And anger over the fact that I myself didn't know more. The few who happened to now anything at all about the Armenian Question considered it to be "impossible".

In 1986 we were able to obtain financial backing for the film from Swedish Television and the Swedish Film Institute. Goran Gunner and I began work, expanding the team to include freelance journalist and sound technician Jim Downing, Armenian journalist Suzane Khardalian and producer Goran Guner, who coordinated the project back home in Sweden. While we were completing our project, the Armenians suddenly appeared on TV screens all over the world, demanding that the district of Nagorno-karabagh be returned to Soviet Armenia. Having encountered Armenian nationalism everywhere we went during our extensive travels troughout the world, we were not surprised. Whether we were among Armenian children in Los Angeles or Armenian pensioners in Lyon we found a love for their history and homeland that is unusual for westerners.

Shown on 30 TV- stations. Festivals: IDFA Amsterdam, Berlin, Montreal, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Paulo, Calcutta.