By: Nineveh Babella Nissan
“We Are Assyrian,” a documentary produced by the prominent filmmaker Victor Davoody, was a spectacular premiere for our beloved community in the Central Valley. They gathered to experience this documentary for the very first time in the State Theater in Modesto, California on April 5, 2009. With the extraordinary efforts of Hollywood Connections Center and the Assyrian Aid Society-Central Valley Chapter, Victor Davoody was able to produce and create a remarkable documentary of the unforgettable Mesopotamian Night- Melodies from the East. The documentary portrayed the Mesopotamian Night in an artistic and exuberant way of presenting our musicians like never seen before.
As narrator of the film, Christen Cowden takes us on a journey beginning with a brief history of the Assyrians, indigenous people of Mesopotamia. She proudly states the achievements, inventions, language, and the history of the Assyrian people bringing us to who we are today and what great accomplishments we are struggling to reach as one nation. With honor and dignity, Cowden presents “The Mesopotamian Night” as one of our accomplishments and introduces the leaders, musicians, artists, and supporters of this great production to the audience. The interviews with the community members exemplified the level of intensity and excitement the supporters felt that night. They were anxiously awaiting the night to begin, to hear and see two phenomenal singers of our nation, Ashur Bet-Sargis and Walter Aziz, with an astounding orchestra and the Assyrian Classical Music and Opera. One of the most essential aspects of the film was listening to those who brought “The Mesopotamian Night” to life; the Maestro/Conductor, Assurhadoun Khofri, the music director and producer, Pierre Noghli, the President of the AAS Central Valley Chapter, Tony Khoshaba, the two famous Assyrian singers, Ashur Bet-Sargis and Walter Aziz, including the musicians and the dedicated members of the Assyrian Aid Society. It is through this documentary that the audience experienced the vision and intent of all those who struggled to create a masterpiece for the Assyrian nation- a night with melodies from the East for the very first time in Assyrian history.
The personal testimonies and reminiscences of all those involved in the making of the concert led to one goal; we want to unite and work for our people in our Homeland. Listening to the singers’ all-time favorite songs with the enchanting music playing in the background made the cause of the concert transparent in the musicians’ hearts and listeners’ souls. Ashur Bet-Sargis, our nation’s legendary singer, quoted Mother Teresa stating, “We will help until it hurts.” He presented the essence of the concert and assured the people that they should donate their time and money to this noble cause. With these powerful statements, Ashur emphasized that unconditional love for our nation will break all the barriers that are creating divisions and allow us to help our people no matter what it takes.
Davoody’s production of the concert presented our brilliant musicians and talented individuals who shared their contributions to this project. He captured the musicians’ and supporters’ personal reflections of the concert. Their reflections brought tears to our eyes because they wholeheartedly expressed how our singers and their lifelong struggle of keeping the Assyrian heritage alive have paid off at the end of the night. In the midst of the tough times our nation is facing, the AAS was successful in hosting the Mesopotamian Night and the outcome was rewarding. Most importantly, the community is grateful to Victor Davoody, who created a documentary for this production. Davoody’s goal was to give hope to our people that our culture will remain strong despite the differences in our nation and he emphasized that we need to work as one nation to help our people in Beth-Nahrain, our Homeland. Every time we watch the concert film, it will bring us back to the people, the singers, the musicians, and the goal of the Mesopotamian Night- we will relive that night once again!