“The Stateless Diplomat: Heroic Life of Diana Apcar,” a documentary by Mimi Malayan, will be screened at 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown. A reception and opportunity to meet the director will take place after the screening.
In 1890, Armenian entrepreneur Michael Apcar brought his wife, an aspiring writer named Diana, and their newborn daughter to Japan, a country that had recently opened to the world and was bursting with opportunities for new businesses. After two bankruptcies, Apcar suddenly died, leaving Diana with debts and three children in a foreign land. She had to support her family and stabilize the business, eventually making it a success — yet she still wanted to focus her energy elsewhere.
Diana Apcar dedicated herself to the Armenian people, facing massacres in the Ottoman Empire from the 1890s to 1909, and then uprooting and annihilation through deportations and the killings of the Armenian Genocide beginning in 1915. Apcar pleaded the case of the Armenian people through letters, books and articles over a period of decades, and helped hundreds of Armenian refugees obtain temporary asylum in Japan before taking refuge in the United States.
This film aims to convey the pivotal moments in Apcar’s life: her awakening to the Armenian cause, her spiritual vision prompting her into activism, her mental collapse and frustration as she foresaw the genocide, and her endless humanitarian work, personally aiding hundreds of Genocide survivors. The culmination of this work resulted in her appointment as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia to Japan in 1920. This position barely lasted six months due to the Sovietization of Armenia.
Malayan, director, producer, writer and researcher, was born and grew up in San Francisco. Her family then moved to Europe, the Asian subcontinent and Brazil, but Apcar returned to the U.S. to attend George Washington University to major in French language and literature. After 10 years on the East Coast, she attended the University of California at Berkeley and received her Master of Landscape Architecture. For 20 years, she practiced her trade, focusing on urban parks, plazas and playground design.
After finding a box of papers dedicated to Diana Apcar in her uncle’s apartment in 2002, Malayan began her research into her great-grandmother’s contributions to Armenia and its people.
This year marks the 160th anniversary of the birth of Diana Apcar: champion of human rights, writer, humanitarian, entrepreneur, diplomat and activist. The screening is organized by the Armenian Cultural Foundation with the co-sponsorship of the Amaras Art Alliance, Arlington International Film Festival, Armenian International Women’s Association, Armenian Museum of America, Armenian Women’s Welfare Association, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, Project Save Armenian Photograph Archives, and the Tekeyan Cultural Association Greater Boston Chapter.
The film was an official selection of the New Hope Film Festival of 2019 and the Pomegranate Film Festival of Toronto in 2018. It received the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award for 2019 at the ARPA International Film Festival.
Tickets to the event are available for purchase online for $10 in advance or at the door for $20. For information and tickets, visit http://bit.ly/statelessdiplomat or the box office at 617-923-8487.