`SCREAMERS' A LOUD AND CARNAGE-FILLED HISTORY LESSON.
There's no masking filmmaker Carla Garapedian's outrage. It comes barreling across the screen with every note thrashed out by political rockers System of a Down, with every bit of politicspeak from past U.S. presidents, and with all those corpses lying wide-eyed and decaying along dusty roads and in makeshift graves.
The end credits of Garapedian's documentary ``Screamers'' -- which examines the world's history of genocides in the 20th and 21st centuries -- contains a huge body count of casualties: 1.5 million Armenians dead, 2 million Cambodians, 400,000 and counting in Darfur. And you get the sense that, had she the resources and screen time, the director might have thrown every last corpse up on screen. The effect, alas, quickly becomes numbing.
Cutting between the carnage and the commentators who acknowledge that, yes, the United States has a rather shoddy history of genocide intervention, Garapedian takes us on the road with System of a Down. The Grammy-winning rock band whose members -- like Garapedian -- have Armenian lineage, deliver music with a message.
They take action off stage as well, lobbying House Speaker Dennis Hastert to bring an Armenian genocide recognition bill to the floor. (During his one on-camera moment in the Capitol, the speaker meets System lead singer Serj Tankian and politely blows him off).
Tankian's direct link to the carnage of 1915 is his 96-year-old grandfather, Stepan Haytayan, whose memories of the death march from Efkere are partially recounted in ``Screamers.'' The late scenes between the rocker activist and the wizened old man whose very being fuels the band's quest, are quietly touching.
Less so, the rest of the film. Garapedian has lined up an assortment of erudite and well-spoken contributors (most notably Harvard University genocide expert Samantha Power) to drive home our nation's culpability in the global carnage. By trying to bring the Holocaust, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur onto the same 91-minute canvas, the director has perhaps cast her net too wide, leaving her outrage over Armenia less sharply drawn.
That said, through ``Screamers,'' Garapedian and producer Peter McAlevey offer much to ponder, not to mention a group with more than fame on its mind.
Evan Henerson, (818) 713-3651
SCREAMERS - Three stars
(R: disturbing images, language)
Starring: System of a Down.
Director: Carla Garapedian.
Running time: 1 hr. 31 min.
Playing: Mann Chinese 6, Glendale Marketplace 4, Mann Criterion Santa Monica.
In a nutshell: The unending cycle of genocide told through System of a Down's music, social commentators and footage of enough corpses to fill up a dozen cemeteries.
System of a Down's Serj Tankian, with his grandfather, Stepan Haytayan, 96, whose memories of the 1915 Armenian genocide are recounted in the documentary ``Screamers.''
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 2006|
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