Ararat, Atom Egoyan's movie-within-a-movie, is about the 1915 slaughter of Turkey's Armenian minority, an atrocity that is still officially denied by the Turkish government. Seamlessly shifting back and forth through time, Ararat (2002) explores how history - both personal and political - can inspire a legacy of uncertainty and insecurity.
A troubled young man (David Alpay) of Armenian descent works as a driver on a Hollywood-style movie about the genocide; the movie is directed by an Armenian filmmaker (Charles Aznavour) working in Canada. The driver is stopped by an elderly customs official while entering the country with unprocessed rolls of film stock, and over a long night of questioning tells the retiring officer (played by Christopher Plummer) the complex history of the conflict. In an overlapping storyline, the young man's mother (Arsinée Khanjian) is an art historian who lectures on the Armenian expressionist artist Arshile Gorky, whose own mother was one of the victims of the slaughter.
The film lavishly and deliberately questions the presumptions and implications of storytelling, and Egoyan deliberately skirts the central issue of the disputed genocide in favour of a more personal vision that is both deeply moving and frustratingly complex. Ararat won six Genie Awards, including best picture, screenplay, actress (Khanjian), and with screenings around the world, including Turkey, it has gone a long way in forcing the Turkish government to face up to one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century.