Grandma's Tattoos

Grandma's Tattoos

2012, History  -   92 Comments
Ratings: 7.33/10 from 55 users.

Grandma's TattoosFilmmaker Suzanne Khardalian makes a journey into her own family's history to investigate the terrible truth behind her grandmother's odd tattoos and, in the process, unveils the story of the Armenian women driven out of Ottoman Turkey during the First World War.

During the First World War, millions of Armenians were forced out of their homes in the then Ottoman empire, into the deserts of Syria and Iraq.

More than a million people died in what Armenians describe as a genocide, although Turkey rejects this accusation.

Everybody in the family seemed to know the story, but no-one ever spoke about it.

More great documentaries

92 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Ninette Halpin

    It's 2019. I just heard about this film and while i have yet to see it, i was reading the comments below here.

    I am American of Armenian decent and have just one thing to say.
    To those of you who doubt the innocent slaughter of 1.2 million Armenians at the hands of the Turks in the early 1900's let me clarify that almost my entire family was murdered. Men, women and children.
    My great grandfather, the Christian Parish Priest in his town was beaten to death and thrown in the river while his Parish looked on in terror and disbelief. Almost the entirety of my family was slaughtered, or starved to death as they were forced to walk into the 100 degree desert to their demise. My Aunt lost 4 beautiful children to starvation, she doesn't know what became of her parents and siblings only that they were gone forever from this life. I could go on and on recounting stories but that's not my mission. I simply must state to those of you who continue 100 years later to deny these atrocities that they are real, they were evil, and cruel and without provocation. The Armenians were a gentle, intelligent, successful people and the Turks wanted everything they had created and built. They were also devout Christians and for all these reasons and more they destroyed their homes, towns, and tried to kill them all.

    May they all rest in peace and may the world one day honor their memory by finally fully acknowledging the horrors they endured.

    1. kathy waters

      Your comment was written in 2019 yet here we are in 2022 and I just watched this film and read your story. My heart is heavy and my eyes so sad with tears for all the suffering your family and so many other families faced at the hands of horrid people. It wasn't long ago that I learned about the massacre of the Armenian peoples. I was just as horrified by what I learned about your ancestors as I was about the atrocities done to the Jewish people during World War 2.

      I ask myself Why? And, even though, I have done a lot of reading and watching of films such as this one, I still can find no answer as to why the Turks and later the Germans and Russians had such hard hearts as to treat another group of people in such devastatingly evil ways.

      I don't know why people must feel contempt for other people and do the things they did (and unfortunately continue to do) but someday the unjust people with face a reckoning.

      May you carry your family's legacy in all that you do. And may they all truly rest in peace by knowing there are a lot of us who care about what happened.

  2. John Cameron

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Understandably, it was too hard for your grandmother to share hers. perhaps, if she had known, the lessons, and closure it could bring to her family....even the world. she may have brought peace to herself. Fear, hate, shame, guilt, jealousy, all the dark emotions are part of the whole human condition.
    all humans, regardless of nationality share the same sorrows, and happiness.
    both the sweet taste of wine, and the tart taste of vinegar.......both are necessary to appreciate the bounty of life.

  3. Guest

    This was a very moving documentary to watch. My heart breaks for the family who wishes they had the opportunity to console their grandmother. It teaches us to embrace and treasure our loved ones, as we don't always know what is going on in their hearts. Thank you for this personal account of an event that is, unfortunately, not as well publicised as the Holocaust. Bless you and warm greetings from South Africa.

  4. dr. Arutyun Sargsyan

    Armenian genocide is a mith made up by our Armenian ancestors. This has become a big buck business nowadays. Countries that want to press on Turkey pay Armenian dispora to screen Genocide, and whoever is interested in making money on it are welcome.

    The history teaches us that there was no real genocide. Yes sure many Armenians and Turk died, because of Russian political games Armenian's living in Turkey attacked Turks, killed and raped, burned down their villages. So Turks regrouped came to protect and retaliate. The result was many thousands of Armenians fled and became refugee to other countries.

    Yes of course in the process / war between Turks and Armenians, many people died. Again, died on both sides. So please people that want to know the truth, read the real old History book, you will find out that it's a big lie.

    There is no such thing as Armenian genocide. There is Azeri genocide that was made by Armenians in the 90's. But nobody wrote about it because it as not interesting when Turks died. When in a night Armenian special murder forces entered Khojaly, a village in Azerbaijan and killed more then 1500 people, including woman and children. Things they did in 24 hours in Khojaly are not even in the worst horror movies.
    That's the real genocide by Armenians. All others is just rubbish. Dont mind us.

    1. V. Z.

      Shame on you!

    2. Julie

      What exactly are you a doctor of? Please, go back to school. I smell a Turk hiding behind an Armenian name. I’ve never known an Armenian to write with such POOR GRAMAR!

  5. Celtic_Seed

    Very nice view i an a Greek and my grandfather was from Pontos in the north sea side of turkey (of black sea) and i can understand what is the way of feeling's so many secret's held from us so we would knot raise in hate. Great Documentary glad to watch it.

  6. xxxxxxxxxxxxx

    These are NOT turkish tattoos out of the pure fact that there is no such thing as turkish tattoos. those symbols on her face are not turkish either. those are bedouin tattoos and DO NOT mean anything bad at all! it's just something ladies used to do a long time ago to look pretty and it's fallen out of fashion.

    i also find it interesting that the grandma said the boatman was an arab, the sister said the boatman was a kurd and the narrator's mom said the boatman was 'of course, a turk!'

    i really wish the narrator had concentrated more on the tattoos and what they mean and the history of them instead of trying to accuse evil turks of putting 'turkish symbols' on these poor girls faces! (the only possible turkish symbol was the moon and star on the grand-aunt's finger!)a simple google search would have told her all she needed to know about these bedouin tattoos. they are not a mark of slavery or anything like that!

    1. Celtic_Seed

      My dear, xxx
      In my opinion the old people are a bit confused as far is the memory is concerned and as you know the racial difference was not in use but the differences were held in the religion you were attached to as far as the Ottoman Empire is concerned. you were not saying i am a Greek or I am a Kurd Or a Serbian the identity was your religion Christian,Muslim or a Jew. After the France rebellion we have the birth of the science thinking and the search of real historical identity. I really can not say anything about the tattoos (cause i am surely not an expert) but your perspective doesn't seem wrong.
      With respect
      Celtic Seed

  7. sknb

    I am half Turkish, live in the United States, and constantly try to draw attention to the atrocities and genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire. My father won't talk about it. It is factually true that the Ottomans literally saved my family (also a "minority") and so he was not brought up to see the Empire as negative.There is a large Armenian population where I live and they have done a wonderful job documenting their history in museums and even billboards. The young Turks that I have met in Istanbul are sympathetic to Armenians and the Kurds, but the Turkish government is a far cry from Freedom of Speech, and so they remain politically silent or uninterested. Ataturk will probably always hang in dusty picture frames over every little shop: his silent gaze listlessly wandering over cups of sweet tea and backgammon.....

    I have hope for the next generation. It's like how many older Greeks will dislike me (or throw us out of diners in the case of my father) when they find out I have Turkish ancestry, I find the younger the person the less infiltrated they are with propaganda and hate. With younger Greeks we talk about the shared deliciousness of the food and have friendly debates over whether Ouzo or Raki is the better drink.

    Peace, Peace, hopefully peace will come as the younger generation matures!

  8. sayitisntover

    The shame is on the perpetrators, and the ones who see these women as shameful. I see them as courageous survivors. Heroes.

  9. Pablo Quenet

    the fact that some family members felt they hadn't given their grandmother the support and understanding to give her solace from her ordeal is simply heartbreaking..very sad.

  10. Gray Lance

    Animals are everywhere - every color, religion, political party. In 100 years, assuming humans survive... what tales of horror will our different cultures/colors/religion come to light of the horrors we inflicted on others because (fill in the blank). Humans - we have such potential, but... I have little faith, anymore, that we will ever move forward.

  11. James Robert Edwards

    Why is everyone trying to sound like the intellectuals they are not. What animals the turks were to do this to people, there is no excuse for slavery and perversion.

  12. ergene

    I am not sure if you are informed more than the main stream media aloows to do so. The film simply aims to convict Turks for something which is open to discussion. While doing so, the child abuse is shown as an act of the Turks. Anyone who knows something about the ethnic groups in the region can tell you that Turks do not practice tatooing.
    As for admitting, apologizing and moving on, I only can tell you that you don t
    unfortunately know much about what happened. If you really want to come to an objective conclusion look into the historical facts. This is like believing that a bunch of Arabs planned and performed 9-11. You might be one of those who believe in the things that main stream media tells you. Open your mind. It is like a parachute, it works better when it is open. I suggest that you first lissen to David Icke. He might inspire you a bit to realize how masses are being manupulated and hipnotised.

    1. sayitisntover

      maybe me and some other people are hypnotizing you to believe stupid things.

    2. aram karibian

      When a contemporary Turk denies the Armenian Genocide, he shares in the guilt of his forefathers who committed it.

  13. Jo McKay

    I appreciate that this story is finally being told ... we have a long way to go yet in our world to know respect for all humanity. Perhaps if we ever are able to embrace the best of being human, then women and children, and the vulnerable and the different might also, finally know the experience of feeling safe. To those who seek this kinder world...the film makers ...aljazeera...and all other's, bravo and thank you

  14. Dse

    Whatever we (the Turks) say, you will just continue to think what you were taught. Nobody talks about how the Armenians massacred thousands of women and children when the Turkish men were at war. There's proof and we want to show eveyone but nobody listens to us. This is all a filthy game played by your governments and you fall for it. I repeat, no matter what we say (I mean the truth) you won't believe us. Why don't you ever talk about the Khojaly (Hocal?) Massacre in 1992? Armenians killed 613 Turks in one night and tortured many more. You can't talk about it, can you? Armenians just know how to make propoganda. They kill people and then they cry on televisions as if we killed them.

    1. english text

      All violence is bad. I don't have any way to check the facts, but I don't have any reason to disbelieve it either. There are mass graves. People died. That is certain. Even if it were done by "turks", those turks were criminals, unfortunately they exist in all societies, but my guess is that most people in Turkey are normal people. I have never been to Turkey but I have traveled to many countries and what I say is universally true. I do have turkish friends that I met in other places.

    2. sayitisntover

      Truth cannot be suppressed. Ever. It will all eventually out.

    3. Iveta Váchová

      yes poor turks:D maybe you can also talk to us about your(turkye) occupation of cyprus.. how peaceful it was..
      turkey is always presenting all this stuff like friendly actions, never like occupatons or war.. never though about it?

  15. redrkr0728

    I wish the filmmaker had a little more information about her Grandmother before she finished this film. I sure she wishes she had more info as well, but the film left me with the same questions that were put when the film started. I am not sure I really got anything out of it except that some bad things happened and it wrecked the womans life. I get that the tattoos were a mark of "shame" but what was the significance of them all? what did the tattoos MEAN? Surely someone knows - don't they have historians in that country?

    1. sayitisntover

      I got that the tattoos marked her as being a captured bride.

  16. Diane Jordan

    I found the documentary sad, Interesting that grandma couldn't hug the kids. Her husband had a lot to put up with I would think. Lovely that the grandaughter went to such a lot to try and piece together her grandmothers past. I had moments of teariness too.

  17. Narine

    Turks must accept the fact of genocide!!!

    1. ergene

      It is similar to what Church wanted from the people to accept in the medivial ages. No questioning. You should accept, for example, that the earth is the center of universe. Besides it is flat. Armenians are doing exactly the same. If you dont accept it, we force the parlaments of the countries to pass laws to outlaw and punish anyone not agreeing with the Armenian view. This is like saying my view is divine and not questionable.

  18. Brandon Nolin

    That era has many skeletons that came around with the fall of the old powers. My Great Grandfather was a Volga German during the Bolshevik Revolution. The Germans living in what is now the "Bread Basket" of Russia experienced a Genocide of their own near the end of WWI. It is estimated that by 1941 1.3 million Volga Germans were murdered by both the Lenin and Stalin governments through firing squads, starvation and eventual deportation to the Gulags. You will not find any German peoples in the Volga region today... they were systematically exterminated for being German. I feel for these Armenian women, my own family’s genocide is not acknowledged by the people who committed it (or even addressed by the current Nation's of the world) and is never taught in schools, we don't even have any documentaries talking about it.

  19. TraceyH

    I wish the filmmaker would have taken a different view and seen these women as inspirational survivors. They were the few, the tough, that made it out alive; that is something of which to be proud. I find her grandmother's strength inspirational because she carried all the burden of her traumatic experiences as best she could. Whether it was motivated by shame or an attempt to shelter her family, she still kept on going, raising several generations, carrying out daily tasks with her tattooed hands, a constant reminder of all that she had been through. That takes true courage and strength. I would hope that if I were ever faced with such terrible circumstances that I would weather it as gracefully. And, her grandmother left behind a legacy, a strong, beautiful family to carry on her story.

  20. C Mariahn Scarborough

    I will never understand why it is that women bare the shame of crimes committed against them and the criminals are so proud of themselves. Why should a grand daughter feel shame? Her grand mother coped as best she could. I feel angry, mostly because the silence insured that nothing would change. Films like this are part of the remedy. I

  21. Justamidwestern

    Simply powerful....a grand daughter trying to understand her grandmother. In the end she found that she should have been more caring of her scary grandmother. Her grandmother had her reasons.

  22. dmxi

    may i ask why a vital, but heart-wrenching post by someone new to this site,which had endured similiar experiences as depicted in this documentary,with replies of AZ & myself,was deleted ?just curious,as i can't find these post's no more ?

    1. Guest

      It could be that the lady in question decided to delete the post herself. She was heard...perhaps that's all she needed for her own sake.

    2. Vlatko


      She wanted to be removed.

    3. dmxi

      thanks,i was doubting my own memory & feared a stroke.i didn't want to stirr things up.thanks again for helping me clearing the satus of my sanity & best wishes to ' you-know-who' ,i hope she wasn't offended by our replies.

  23. ergene

    I cant agree with you more, Jack1952. We should not go into the vicious circle. We should condemn, not forget but do not try to take revenge. I believe this is the only way to move to a higher level of conciousness. Finally, the tragedy is a human tragedy not an ethnic one.

    1. Jack1952

      "The tragedy is a human tragedy not an ethnic one." Absolutely true.

  24. mahir7996

    Dear Jack1952
    Just another fact come to my mind about Armenian brutality to other nation members - 1900's in today's Armenian territory was home for about 40 per cent Turks(Azerbaijanians, Jews, Kurds and etc.) But today Erevan is single capital in Europe without any Turk or other nation resident.
    On the other have, it will be interesting if I state that we have about 25.000 Azerbaijan citizen with Armenian nationality in our capital Baku, Azerbaijan.
    Best regards,

    1. Jack1952

      I understand what you are saying concerning Armenia and Azerbaijan and agree that this should be addressed. This does not absolve what the Ottomans did to the Armenians in WW1. Both actions are wrong. Comparing tally sheets of grievances is not the way to peace in this part of the world. One of the ways to peace is the acceptance that some actions are never to be allowed no matter who does them for whatever grievance or reason they submit.

      Azerbaijan is one of the regions of the world that has always fascinated me. I would love to visit this country someday.

    2. mahir7996

      I completely agree with in this point. But for making clear judgement we need to learn history by true way.

      You always welcomed to Azerbaijan and please do not hesitate to contact me for any help. Next week is wonderful chance for visiting Azerbaijan, we will willcome thousands people in our country for Eurovision 2012 ceremonies.

  25. mahir7996

    Dear Jack1952
    It seems that you do not have enough information about region and conflicts. Armenian nationalist and "evil individuals" have illusion about create state from sea to sea which is base for all conflicts between Armenians and Turks. (of course with Georgia and Azerbaijan at the same time) Because of their illusion today 20 per cent Azerbaijan territory under occuation Armenian and Russian troops. In addition there are we have UN declare 4 resolution about occupation (822, 853 as I remember and 2 others) and withdraw troops from Azerbaiajan territory without any negotiotion. Armenian state have concept about nation cleaning and replace Turks, Azerbaijanians and Georgians with Armenians.

    But today as I stated we still suffer from occupation and Armenia continue to neglect International Law.
    In conclusion, I am verry sorry for any massacre and suffer of people no matter from which nation. But at the same time it is time to call for PEACE and normal life without any territory claim. Because we know that Nasist-like ideas take peoples nowhere and it is just illusion, but nothing.

  26. sevda ertugrul

    This is a beautiful made movie. I wonder if the world was governed by women would horrible things like this still happen?

    We have a program in Turkey called " If only it never happened." It describes real unfortunate events in our history that needn't have happened and that we are distraught of. Sometimes there is a "perfect storm" where everything is perfectly set to go horribly wrong.
    So, put a context around the genocide: Even 70 years ago most of Turkey was as desolute as Afganistan. At the time of the genocide it was the end of an empire AND a war zone -civil and foreign attackers at the same time. Pandemonium. Children in Istanbul were eating grass, really. Out east- it was obviously hell. And it still is very dangerous there. The murderers were a rag tag bunch of gangs.The Turks governing at the time were courtmarshalled, I think, as if that really does any good.
    I don't think this causes enmity to the Turkish people as some have commented. We don't hate Germans or Serbs, do we?. We hate evil individuals.

    BTW, tatooing is not a Turkish tradition.

    1. a_no_n

      "I wonder if the world was governed by women would horrible things like this still happen?"

      We tried it in the UK with Margret Thatcher...Horrible stuff still happens. It's been thirty years since she left power, and the country is still in social ruins from her trying to drag it back into the victorian era.

    2. sayitisntover

      and all those men just standing around, doing nothing, while it happened. Poor men.

    3. John Cury

      Sevda, First of all I want to say I have been to turkey, and drove around 1000 KM to all the way to Syria, It is a beautiful country, although they have many radical islamists, most of turkey I must admit is not like that, the people were kind to me, the food was excellent and people were very helpful when I asked for directions, wish though they would speak English a bit more.
      But not many nations are responsible for acts as brutal and disgusting like genocide. Turkey did this not just to Armenians but to Greeks, Assyrians and even Kurds. I can’t say I hate turkey because that is not true. You are right, Armenia should not live in the past, but nor should this be forgotten.
      Just because someone doesn’t share your religion, political views, or even the same taste is no reason to hate or kill. This go’s for every nation and any persone.

    4. Martin Frazer

      If only the Turkish government were as wise and honest as you about these events. They might actually earn some respect

  27. ergene

    Missy Nichols, I respect your romantism. Unfortunately, the film is not about a tragic story. This is similar to bringing democracy to Arab world under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, Katar and the rest of the dark regimes. There are so many actual tragedies in Ruanda, Darfur, Iraq, Afganistan etc. Besides you dont even have to force yourself to go into forensic research to create a half story. I say this because the real story could have been told by grandma. Anything said by anybody else is just a manupilated construction. I just post my comments in order to show the silent mass that there is another side of the coin. Everyone who is capable enough is to make his or her free mind.
    PS If what you say was true why should "demand sider" get a sudden urge to wipe his or her ass with a Turkish flag?

    1. Missy Nichols

      Well... I see ur point.. to each their own I guess.. if u see the dark side of the coin then I'll see the light :P and I dno.. maybe that's their new found fetish... or they interpreted the video that way... that it's about what you've said... I'm merely stating how I see things

    2. Jack1952

      This film tells how an "actual" tragedy affected the lives of a family years later. It is the lack of detail just as much as any detail known that haunts the filmmaker and her family members. Whatever happened to her grandmother came as a result of an action by a government who targeted a specific group of it's citizens. That was the tragedy.

      People react to stories like this in different ways. "demand sider" has one of the more unfortunate reactions. It didn't have to be that way.

    3. ergene

      I agree that people may have unfortunate reactions. Avarage person, most of the time, does have. If we dont try to see the big picture, we simply get lost with the blood feud between the nations or etnic groups. It has always served and will serve the policy of divide and rule. Written and told history shows us, this type of human tragedy keeps on happening independent of any nation. In this new century, we need to ask new questions. Why is there so much human suffering? To whom and what plan does this suffering serve? Either we, together, will create a new bright future or fail as human race. I believe, we should take lessons from the past but look ahead to the future.

    4. demand_sider


      The Turkish government refuses to deal honestly with this issue. Obfuscation and censorship only deepens the wound. It will NEVER end, otherwise.

    5. sayitisntover

      speak louder we silent masses are deaf also.

  28. mahir7996

    Not interesting and facts are changed. I suggest you to make film about Khojaly massacre caused by Armenians in Azerbaijan.

    1. Jack1952

      The Khojaly Massacre is a terrible tragedy. It has nothing to do with what happened to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks.

    2. ergene

      I take the liberty to make these points. If you know about them, please excuse me. Azerbejcan is a Turkish state. More Azeri Turks live in Iran than in Azerbeycan. So Khojaly has something to do with this. Besides if we should go into the details Turkish ethnic clensing in Armenia, it is so obvious when the documents of population counts are studied.

    3. Jack1952

      My point is that one atrocity does not justify another. Each is equally reprehensible and this type of action should never happen no matter what the perceived grievance.

  29. ergene

    This is exactly what I was trying to say. This film is only planting seeds of hate. You start wiping your *** with the Turkish flag, then continue killing the Turks. You might decide to pee on the dead bodies and take some photos. And the revenge will be taken. And you may not even know where the truth is. Hitler and similar ill leaders always used such propoganda to manipulate the people with hate. I such say that this film is simply provocative.

    1. Missy Nichols

      Really? Because I don't think that at all... this film was just a story of a family and thier grandmother.. they were trying to find out what had happened to her.. The film isn't planting seed of hate.. its just a tale of regret.. no more no less...

    2. Martin Frazer

      How is the film planting seeds of hate?
      By telling the truth?
      Turkey planted the seeds, not this film maker.
      There is a simple solution to this for Turkey.
      Admit it, apologize, move on.

    3. sayitisntover

      you are entitled to your opinion. I am glad it is yours because I sure do not want it.

  30. demand_sider

    I have this sudden urge to wipe my *** with the Turkish flag. Anyone else have that reaction?

    1. alphafemale1

      I understand so deeply how we would wish to do so to any nation who seeks genocide on oneanother, but so few & far between are the nations who have done such things. Even our own - One Nation Under God has done so to the first inhabitants of this beloved Country. It is to me, quote " Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

    2. docoman

      You said, "I understand so deeply how we would wish to do so to any nation who seeks genocide on oneanother, but so few & far between are the nations who have done such things."
      Genocide definition - The deliberate killing of a large group of people, esp. those of a particular ethnic group or nation.
      I suggest it's not as few and far between as you say. Actually, one could argue that your 'One Nation Under God' is actively involved in exactly that right now. With the help of other nations, such as mine. I'm sorry to admit.
      Cruelty to our fellow humans is not a rare thing.

    3. Jack1952

      Not saying that I agree with American aggressions but it doesn't fall under the definition of genocide. Their killing is done for idealogical, economic and strategic reasons and not directed at a specific group only because they exist. Those killed just happen to be in the way of the particular agenda at hand. If their perceived enemy surrenders and gives in to their demands the killing stops. It is not killing for its own sake but to fulfill a goal. There is no desire to wipe anyone of the face of the earth, for example, the Nazi killing of Jews.

    4. docoman

      Fair point. We probably need a new word to more accurately define what we're doing in the world today.
      Although, one could argue that the killing and continued occupation that is still going on, (re. wiki leaks) is for political/cultural reasons. Which could then come under the Merriam-Webster definition of genocide; the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group. (We've destroyed Afghanistan's and Iraq's political systems along with many of their former leaders. I bet the Taliban and the Hussein's would call it genocide.) It depends on your perspective I suppose.
      Either way, regardless of how or why, killing people for reasons other then defense is nearly always wrong. Whatever name we give it, it's sad how cruel we can be to our own species.

    5. Sedat30

      Two Leeds fans did that in ?stanbul...Still have the urge?

    6. Aykut

      what you do with your a** in privacy is entirely up to you....even with its pole.

  31. Jack1952

    This film felt so familiar. My parents grew up in Nazi occupied Holland. My mother has never spoken of the war, only the superficial memories of growing up. My father only tells of the marching Nazi soldiers and the all pervasive fear that permeated all their lives and the exhilaration felt when Canadian soldiers chased the Nazis out of his village. He defends the actions of the United States vehemently. When I was growing up. I remember that he was fearful of communist aggression and now has similar fears concerning Muslim expansion. When questioned about those fears he replies "You just don't know what its like to live in an occupied country." He's right. I don't.

    A great doc. As a girl the film maker judged her grandmother harshly. When she grew up she started to realize that there were elements in grandmother's life that could explain her personality. We just don't know what lies beneath the surface in the lives of those around us.

  32. Sieben Stern

    that was an amazing docu - It was heartbreaking to see the old woman at the end still affected by what happened back in WWI.

  33. yohananw

    An excellent, strong film about genocide and memory; on sexual offences and high crimes.  It's important to see victims and survivors of genocides as human individuals and families. It's important to see victims' absence when visiting the lands of their genocides.

    I don't agree with the film's feminist statement that women have always suffered worst (worse than men or children) in war and genocide.   In genocides, men are targeted, selected and murdered first.  More men are killed and earlier than women in wars and genocides. Men have also been subject to rape, enslavement, castration.  However, the film seems to state that women's bearing and raising children of their captors, rapists and murderers is hardest. I don't argue that women are more subject to rape and sexual enslavement, but that there are even more evil war crimes. Men and children also suffer murder, violence and torture in war and genocide.

    When Armenian genocide survivors began life again in their diaspora refugee community, didn't both parents raise their children?  I wish the film-maker had mentioned more about her grandfather in Beirut, than only his being a vicarious victim of his wife's cruel exile, theft, concubinage and prostitution. Obviously he also was a survivor of the Armenian genocide. What was his story? 

    At Deir ez-Zor mass grave, Suzanne Khardalian says, "This place is the Armenian Auschwitz." Despite denialists: the Turk's mass murders of Armenians and the Germans' and Europeans' mass murders of Jews were among the great genocides and crimes of last century.

    The latency of broaching the hard history within the family, the reticence of the survivors to tell and of their children to ask, these were also true in the holocaust survivor branch of my Jewish family.

    1. Sieben Stern

      I have to admit i find your comment rather callous and shockingly so. After watching that docu all you can think about is the horrors of feminism? there was nothing there even remotely feminist in that docu...(unless, as a man you think that any time a show or article is about women and not men it's suddenly feminist)

      honestly, you want to say that her grandma being raped and stolen meant that her husband's suffered from it the same? really? he wasn't the one being raped.

      It was even called 'grandma's tattoos' explicitly talking about the life of her grandmother. there was nothing in the docu that stated (unless you consider the focus/omission) that her husband didn't suffer - if women being a focus of anything offends you, then try a different one? O_o;

    2. Brenna MacDonald

      Thanks for this comment. I couldn't even begin to form the words to reply to this guy. It bothers me when people get all worked up if a piece of media focuses on women because when that happens everyone goes "OMG MEN HAD IT BAD TOO" as if by mentioning women you are purposefully leaving out men and trying to belittle them or something. *sigh*

    3. a_no_n

      "I don't agree with the film's feminist statement that women have always suffered worst (worse than men) in war and genocide."

      I suggest you read a history book...There are far worse fates than death, and women are the ones who always suffer it.

    4. Lisa Gagnon

      I believe she was talking about women's powerlessness in these situations. Yes, men were killed, but they were not held captive as sexual slaves, forced to bear children to the men who raped them, forced to adopt their religion, and their struggles were not forgotten.

    5. Meredith Mollohan

      Thank you for this intelligent, much-needed comment!

    6. sayitisntover

      and while we argue the question of "who suffered the most", war continues.

  34. hculliton

    Having slight understanding of the horrors of the Rwandian genocide, I had thought this might be an interesting documentry. This is an OUTSTANDING examination of the evil of genocide and it's affects on survivors. Thank you to all who produced this, and please know that I will be using this doc to teach my high school history and global issues classes.

  35. hculliton

    Having some small familiarity with the Rwandan genocide, I thought this would be an interesting documentary. I was wrong: this is an OUTSTANDING examination of the horror and consequences of genocide. Very, very well done!

    Lest we forget.

  36. ergene

    What is the moral of the story? Maybe the grandma was very wise not to plant seeds of hatred. I believe that there is no way to build anything positive on hatred. The story is a typical human tragedy that keeps on accuring all over the world. I should mention that tatooing has never been a Turkish tradition. A short survey shows that it is typical practice of Kurdish and Arabic tribes.

  37. PavolvsBitch

    there is not a people, a race, a 'nation'' on Earth who cannot report thier own tragic experience of ancestral ruin. exept, of course, the victors.

  38. dmxi

    history does not select a peoples written testimony but people select the testominy of written history!

  39. Guest

    What an extraordinary film! The cinematography is amazing! The testimonies are heartbreaking. It makes one relates to the untold stories of our own grandmothers, no matter how diffferent they may have been.
    Many old people lived in shame in their youth.
    As a woman and as a traveller who has been to Turkey several times and then to Syria and Lebannon, I was most pleased to see the selection this morning.

    Et même si tu maudis ton sort
    Dans tes yeux je veux voir
    Une lueur d'espoir

    Charles Aznavour

    1. CapnCanard

      AZ, I normally don't watch these films, but it is interesting to watch the disruption of families and cultures from transfer of political power and economic influences. This doc certainly had the feel of a Holocaust like experience. I think life takes out a pound of flesh even in our everyday experiences. I wonder if you, having traveled in these lands, have ever noticed if it shows on their faces? I remember the Vietnamese kids in High School, they were small but they were hard.

    2. Guest

      Not sure if you mean the tattoos.
      I do not remember seeing these tatoos while travelling the area, but again i was not aware of this at the time.
      One of my favorite travel though Turkey was the second time i went, my 16yrs old daughter came to meet me in Istanbul and we backpacked for 5 weeks together towards the north and then Capadocia, then southeast, then west, then back to Istanbul. Travelling with a daughter gave us so many opportunities to meet other women, many times in turkish bath house where we would be invited to their home.
      After my daughter left, i crossed the country again to enter Syria.
      When i get old and senile, i'll just rock in a chair and remenisce on good old times. LOL
      edit: today i wore a hand stitched shawl an old lady gave me in Northern memory.

  40. dmxi

    even armenians living in turkey today ,are irritated by the french insistence of making this past atrocity a historical fact,namely genocide!makes one wonder why?