Join Us for the Film Premiere of They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief

This long-awaited documentary details the historic events that led to the Armenian Genocide and the rescue and unprecedented humanitarianism that followed, providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced men, women, and children. The documentary makes extensive use of newly discovered film footage and archival photographs of orphans who were in Near East Relief’s care.

Disclaimer: This film contains graphic images. For more information about the film, please visit

April 8th Screenings at The Times Center in New York:

    Matinee (2pm): $20/pp – Includes film and Q&A with the filmmakers and historians  (group rates available for ten or more)

    Evening/Reception (5pm): SOLD OUT $50/pp – Includes film, Q&A with the filmmakers and historians, and cocktail reception catered by Great Performances. Please email to be placed on our waiting list.


     George Billard – Writer & Director

     Shant Mardirossian – Executive Producer & NEF Board Member

     Peter Balakian – Expert Historian

     Susan Harper – Expert Historian

     Taner Akçam – Expert Historian & Sociologist

Please read more about our panelists below.


The Near East Foundation, known initially as Near East Relief, spearheaded this first great mobilization of international humanitarian assistance in the United States, in September 1915, in response to the Armenian Genocide. Driven by the conviction that ordinary citizens had the collective power to save the lives of people coping with adversity, the organization’s efforts helped save more than one million lives.

As the first organization to provide direct relief to refugees, Near East Foundation’s work continues to be necessary and relevant today. All proceeds generated by this screening will go toward our current work improving lives in the Middle East.

In conjunction with the premiere, The Near East Foundation’s educational partner Facing History and Ourselves will help bring the lessons learned from the film to classrooms across America. While NEF remains committed to implementing economic-development programs today to ensure a better tomorrow, Facing History similarly strives for a world shaped by caring and knowledge rather than prejudice and bigotry by inspiring students to think critically and make informed, ethical decisions. As we experience the biggest refugee crisis since WWII, we hope that this partnership between the two organizations will call attention to what society can do to help vulnerable populations, and to the measures that can be taken to prevent similar atrocities from happening in the future.

For media inquiries, sponsorships, groups over 10, or other questions about the event please contact Communications and Development Officer Andrea Crowley at Follow updates on the event on Facebook and Twitter.




Shant Mardirossian                           Executive Producer

Shant Mardirossian is the Executive Producer of They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief. In his professional life, Mr. Mardirossian is a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer at a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm. He is a graduate of the Lubin School of Business at Pace University and holds a B.B.A. in Public Accounting and an M.B.A. with dual concentration in Investment Management and Strategic Management. His grandparents were all survivors of the Armenian Genocide and his paternal grandmother sought refuge in an American orphanage. They were the inspiration for the film.

George Billard
Writer, Director & Producer

George Billard is an award-winning producer, writer, director and cinematographer. To date he has helmed productions in over forty countries. His work includes commercials, television, documentaries and film. In addition to They Shall Not Perish, he is currently in production on Amateur, a documentary film about amateur cagefighters in New York, and They Call Me Killer, a documentary about an unusual state executioner. His original screenplay, Dispossessed, was awarded the Grand Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Peter Balakian

Peter Balakian is the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry and author of 7 books of poems, 4 books of prose and 2 translations. His newly published books are Ozone Journal and Vice and Shado: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry Art, and Culture (University of Chicago Press.) His books of prose include Black Dog of Fate, which won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir, and was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly. The Burning Tigris: Armenian Genocide and America’s Response won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times Best Seller. His translation of Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide was a Washington Post book of the year. Balakian is the recipient of many awards, prizes and civic citations including a Movses Horenatis Medal from the Republic of Armenia, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, The Sependlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance, and Diplomacy (recipients include President Carter), and the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared widely on national television and radio (60 minutes, ABC World News Tonight, PBS, Charlie Rose, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, Fresh Air, etc.). His work has been translated into over a dozen languages including Armenian, Arabiv, Bulgarian, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Hebrew, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and Turkish. He is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University.

usan B. Harper

Susan B. Harper is currently researching the history of American philanthropy in the Near East as a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Dr. Harper was previously senior officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts, executive director of the Templeton Prize, and lecturer in History, Literature and Expository Writing at Harvard University. She received her bachelors degree from Yale University and her masters and doctoral degrees from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Harper is author of a biography of the first Indian bishop of the Anglican Church, V.S. Azariah of Dornakal. She has also published and lectured on the lives of Near East Relief workers, most recently at the Library of Congress.

Taner Akçam
Historian and Sociologist

Taner Akçam received his doctorate in 1995 from the University of Hanover, with a dissertation on The Turkish National Movement and the Armenian Genocide Against the Background of the Military Tribunals in Istanbul Between 1919 and 1922.

Akçam was born in the province of Ardahan, Turkey, in 1953. He became interested in Turkish politics at an early age. As the editor-in-chief of a student political journal, he was arrested in 1976 and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. A year later, he escaped to Germany, where he received political asylum. In 1988 he started working as Research Scientist in Sociology at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research. His first research topic was the history of political violence and torture in the late Ottoman Empire and early Republic of Turkey.

Between 2000 and 2002 Akçam was Visiting Professor of History at University of Michigan. He worked also as Visiting Associate Professor at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at University of Minnesota. He has been a member of the history department at Clark University since 2008.

Adam Strom (Moderator)
Director of Scholarship & Innovation, Facing History and Ourselves

 Adam Strom has an over 20 year record of using the latest scholarship to encourage learning about identity, bias, belonging, history, and the challenges and opportunities of civic engagement in our globalized world. He is the author, editor, and producer of numerous Facing History digital, print and video resources and publications including Washington’s Rebuke to Bigotry: Reflections On Our First President’s 1790 Letter to the Hebrew Congregation In Newport, Rhode Island, Stories of Identity: Religion, Migration and Belonging in a Changing World, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954-1986, and Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians. Mr. Strom oversees Facing History and Ourselves’ international board of scholars and facilitates professional development for educators online and face to face for educators from around the world. He lives in Brookline, MA with his wife Sandy and his two children, Max and Sam.

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