Aurora’s Sunrise (2023) Review: A Captivating Journey Through Time and Trauma

Aurora's Sunrise

In a world increasingly dominated by rapid technological advancements and the constant barrage of information, it’s easy to forget the power of storytelling and the role that film plays in preserving history. “Aurora’s Sunrise,” a remarkable historical documentary, serves as a poignant reminder of this very fact.

Directed by Inna Sahakyan, this film artfully blends animation, interview footage, and a rediscovered 1919 silent film to tell the harrowing story of Aurora Mardiganian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide. In this review, we delve into the multifaceted brilliance of “Aurora’s Sunrise” and the profound impact it has on its audience.

A Forgotten Chapter Unveiled

The film opens with a deeply personal connection as the author reflects on the reluctance of their grandfather to speak about his experiences in World War II. It sets the tone for “Aurora’s Sunrise,” which unearths a chapter of history that remained buried for far too long.

Aurora Mardiganian’s journey, born in 1901 in the Ottoman Empire and surviving the Armenian genocide, is nothing short of astonishing. Her resilience and heroism in the face of unimaginable horrors serve as the foundation for this compelling narrative.

A Hybrid of Storytelling

Inna Sahakyan masterfully blends different storytelling techniques to convey Aurora’s story. The use of animation, though not without its minor imperfections, breathes life into the past. The deliberate lack of animation style, as it seems, adds a layer of authenticity, making it feel like an intimate journey into Aurora’s memories.

The characters may float rather than walk, but this stylistic choice enhances the sense of memory and reflection, transporting the audience to a bygone era.

The Power of Aurora’s Voice

What sets “Aurora’s Sunrise” apart is its intimate connection with its subject. Aurora Mardiganian’s voice, both through interviews from the 1990s and her own narrations, weaves a powerful narrative thread throughout the film.

The audience is not merely spectators but active listeners, brought face to face with the survivor’s experiences. This dynamic presentation underscores the importance of having storytellers like Aurora and emphasizes the significance of bearing witness to history.

Musical Score

Christine Aufderhaar’s enchanting musical score deserves a special mention. It beautifully complements the animated segments, enhancing the emotional impact without resorting to manipulation.

The score becomes a silent character in the film, guiding us through the darkest moments of Aurora’s life with grace and sensitivity.

Auction of Souls: A Cinematic Gem

The true treasure of “Aurora’s Sunrise” lies in its inclusion of scenes from the 1919 silent film “Auction of Souls,” starring Aurora herself. These scenes are not only a historical relic but also a testament to the daring activism of their time.

Filmed in the California desert, they depict the horrors of the Armenian genocide with a raw intensity that is still deeply unsettling today. It’s a breathtaking production that almost disappeared into obscurity. Watching it, we’re reminded of the importance of preserving such daring acts of activism and the truths they reveal about our shared history.


In an era where we are inundated with information, “Aurora’s Sunrise” serves as a poignant reminder of the value of storytelling and filmmaking. Through the eyes and voice of Aurora Mardiganian, this historical documentary takes us on a profound journey through time and trauma. It challenges us to reflect on the untold stories that may have vanished into oblivion had it not been for the power of cinema.

As the film gains limited release and gradually expands across the country, it is our collective responsibility to engage with works like “Aurora’s Sunrise.” We must recognize the importance of listening to those who have witnessed history’s darkest moments and of preserving daring acts of activism that reveal uncomfortable truths.

In doing so, we not only honor the resilience of survivors like Aurora but also ensure that the lessons of the past continue to shape our future. “Aurora’s Sunrise” is a testament to the enduring power of cinema as a vessel for memory, history, and human connection. Don’t miss the opportunity to embark on this captivating journey through time and trauma.

Watch the Trailer here:

Scroll to Top