|THE LAST ASSYRIANS is a 53 min. documentary film directed and produced by Robert Alaux.
Syriacs Assyrians Chaldéans are one of the first people to convert to Christianity; they still speak Syriac, a modern dialect of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Members of the Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac Orthodox or Syriac Catholic Churches, these refugees from Iraq, Turkey, Syria or Iran claim to be descendants of the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia. Rejected from the official Catholic Church as heretics in the 5th century, they are named Nestorians or Jacobites by Western Christians. They expand in their area of Eastern Roman and Persian Empire, they developed a very original literature and have kept alive one of the oldest Christian liturgies. From 7th to 12th century they have played a prominent role in the Muslim world where they translated ancient Greek texts first into Syriac and then in Arabic. They were the first to evangelise China and Mongolia during the Golden Age of the Arabic Empire.
In 1915, together with the Armenians, they were the victims of genocide and many fled to Europe and the United States. Again, they were slaughtered in Iraq in 1933. Even if they use various names as Chaldeans, Assyrians, Arameans, Suryoyo, Chaldo-Assyrians, Syriacs, Suroyo, Syrians etc., they share the same culture and most of them think they belong to one people. But during the 20th century they disappeared from Mesopotamia (see the film « Seyfo l’élimination »).
Very few of them remain in Tur Abdin (Turkey), where monks protect some of the oldest monasteries of the Christianity. There are still around 600 000 Chaldo-Assyrians in Iraq today and the Assyrian Democratic Movement is working to help to maintain their culture. Nowadays they are threatened by Islamic extremists, and in fleeing to Western countries they run the risk of losing the culture and traditions that they have managed to preserve until now. A knowledge of their past will help us to understand the construction of their very specific identity and why they are so threatened.
This documentary film is the result of a seven years work, and of many travels and shootings in Turkey (Tur Abdin, Qotchanes, Hakkari…), Iraq (before and after the arrival of American troops), Syria, USA and Europe. It contains interviews of Pr. Sebastian Brock (Oxford, UK) one of the most recognized specialists of Arameans and Syriacs, and Pr. Joseph Yacoub (Lyon, France), French specialist of Assyro-Chaldeans and Assyro-Chaldean himself.
For this documentary, Robert Alaux received congratulations and support from Theophilus George Saliba, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Mount Lebanon, Mar Narsai de Baz, Archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Samuel Aktas Syriac Archbishop of TurAbdin, Cardinal Moussa Daoud, managing all the Oriental Catholic Churches in The Vatica n(Chaldeans, Catholic Syriac etc.), and from several Scholars, Specialists and political leaders. This film is one of the very first documentaries telling all this history, from ancient Mesopotamia and the origin of the Aramaic language to the actual tragic situation. It tells of all the Churches using Syriac language. It was selected in several international festivals and broadcast on several TV channels (see press).
Robert Alaux received a first Award from the Syriac league in Lebanon during the Symposium Syriacum 2004 and a secondfrom the "Center for Information and Documentation Assyria", in 2005 in the Netherlands.
This film is available in English and French
Credit photo : R.Alaux, M.Paboudjian, E.Loreaux, K.Petros-Elloff, C.Baumer, A. et S. Yalap - All rights reserved.