How can an artist be true to the tragic past? That’s the question driving Ararat, a movie that poses the query to itself as much as it does to endeavors such as Schindler’s List. An extremely personal effort from Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), Ararat features his usual abstract approach, this time to explore the awful legacy left by the genocide of Armenians in 1915 Turkey. Here the story centers around the people involved in a film dramatizing the massacre, specifically an
Armenian art-history professor (Arsinee Khanjian, Egoyan’s wife) serving as a consultant and her production-assistant son (David Alpay). As this central story interweaves with scenes of the movie-within-the-movie and flashbacks to the life of Armenian painter Arshile Gorky, who survived the attack, Egoyan and his characters earnestly seek some sort of reconciliation. That they never quite find it may not make for an uplifting film, but it admirably carries the cruel sting of truth.