I Will Not Be Sad in this World
Press Coverage

3rd Annual Armenian Film Festival

Arpik Paraghamian, Staff Writer

Karina Epperlein

“I Will Not Be Sad In This World” a 56-minute documentary by award winning producer/director, Karina Epperlein of Berkeley, followed a 94 year-old survivor throughout her daily routine. The subject, Zaroohe Najarian lost everything at the hands of Turkish soldiers as part of the Armenian Genocide during World War I. As one of the oldest living survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Najarian grew up in an orphanage in Beirut, Lebanon before immigrating to America, where she divorced her husband of an arranged marriage and created a second family with the man she really loved. For fifty years Najarian supported herself as a seamstress. The documentary shows Najarian being as candid as an old woman can be. The audience was delighted to see her vacuuming her living room, cooking authentic Armenian dishes, singing to her great grandson and gardening as well.

Epperlein was present at the Film Festival and after her film screened, she discussed why she made the movie and how it came about.

As an independent filmmaker, Epperlein chooses the subjects of her films very carefully. She found Najarian through a story written about her by her son, Peter Najarian. As she read the story, Epperlein saw a film taking shape in her head. “I didn’t yet have the courage to start a new film. I was so much in debt from my last project,” said Epperlein. She wouldn’t meet Najarian for another year, but when she did she was fascinated. “She was so open to me. She just let me into her life,” said Epperlein. For her documentary, Epperlein took a different approach. “I didn’t come in like a regular filmmaker who just goes and asks questions. I really made a friendship with her. For four years I came and visited and we became friends,” Epperlein said. Epperlein was amazed to see Najarian so vibrant after having lived through such difficult times. “There’s a whole century she has lived, with all of the tragedies and hardships and also the joys of her life. And here she was, not bitter in her old age. So vibrant and vital that I wanted to be around her and I wanted to share her with the world,” said Epperlein.

Epperlein grew up in post-war Germany and studied Armenian history and culture for five years in order to make her latest film. She said making the film was a wonderful way of accomplishing her goal of capturing Najarian’s spirit and giving it onto the world.

Epperlein has come to find that Armenian audiences that see the film have totally embraced it because they can see themselves in it as well as someone who is so similar to their own grandmother. “I tried to make the film universal so that everybody could take something from it and so non-Armenians could also learn about the genocide,” said Epperlein. Today Zaroohe Najarian lives in a nursing home.

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