Perhaps few people know that Mauricio Ochman, the famous actor of Mexican films, is of Armenian descent. Ochman’s grandfather was born on the emigration route in 1916. He is one of the most famous heroes of journalists tracing the genocide, because he was born on the emigration route and miraculously survived to reach Mexico.

Ochman’s mother is Jewish and his father is Armenian. 

In his autobiographical book, Ochman writes:

“Naturally, my grandfather doesn’t remember anything from the migration, and he heard the story from his mother Maral from Sasun. These stories, like a terrible fairy tale, were passed down from his grandmother to him, to his brother, and then to his children and grandchildren: both frightening and enlightening, because they were about survival in the face of hardship, struggle, despair and suffering.”

From that story, generations have inherited Grandma Maral’s wool shawl, in which the newborn Hakob was wrapped and hidden, and a large, heavy wooden chest filled with silent and unspoken pain and the secret hope of return.

My clan was from the village of Korter in Sassoun.

On the way to the deportation, the group of refugees suffered great hardships, constantly chased by the Kurds and forced to flee left and right… My grandfather’s mother lost her relatives and two daughters to cholera on the migration route. My family, like many others, was persecuted after leaving Sassoun, crossed the vast lands of Western Armenia to Tabriz and lived in hunger and misery for months. My grandfather told me that during the two months his father stayed in Tabriz, he made ladles and spoons and sold them to earn bread and feed the family. In exchange for money, sometimes they gave him raisins, and the migrants had to eat grapes to avoid starvation. After Tabriz, the relentless process of deportation began again. In 1916, after endless “advances and retreats”, a group of hungry and suffering migrants reached Basen. There my grandfather was born.”

Ochman has received numerous awards and honors for his films and books, including at the Toronto and Cannes Film Festivals. His most famous work, which he co-authored, is the documentary film “The Shouters”, which was widely acclaimed around the world upon its release.

“This movie is a new and special look at the Armenian question. “Haykiranlar” is about witnesses and perpetrators who are still alive. The movie is provocative in a way. It is topical given the age of the survivors. Murder, especially mass murder, does not have a statute of limitations and if you remain indifferent, you become an accomplice.”

Ashkhen Virabyan

journalist-analyst westernarmeniatv