More than 800,000 Armenians were murdered since the start of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th, 1915. In the documentary TV Series Bloedbroeders (Blood Brothers), Ara Halici and Sinan Can, one with Armenian and the other with Turkish heritage, try to uncover the roots of the conflict. They travel from Istanbul to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. According to director Kees Schaap, this search was necessary: “The word ‘genocide’ is still a delicate matter. Even the Dutch national news supplier NOS still refers to ‘the Armenian issue’.”

The discussion leads to severe tension between Turks and Armenians. This is why it is important that both perspectives are shown, according to Schaap: “Only when both parties acknowledge what happened, does it become possible to forgive one another.”

To this day, public opinion on the exact details of the drama is divided. Was it genocide? Turkey claims it wasn’t, Armenia says it was. In addition to Armenia, 23 countries acknowledge the genocide, including the Netherlands. The total number of deaths is also disputed. Some historians claim 800,000 Armenians were murdered, other estimate the total to be 1.5 million. Animosity and distrust is still commonplace between the Turkish and Armenian people.

During their search, Can and Helici experienced intense emotions and confronting moments. How were their families involved with this gruesome chapter in history, exactly one century ago? Much remains unknown, but it is certain that Can and Halici’s friendship was put under pressure while the documentary was recorded.

Bloedbroeders has turned this difficult subject into an impressive documentary. The series has touched many people, incited a discussion, but also created room for mutual understanding.

The Democracy and Media Foundation provided both financial and substantive support. “With the Foundation as a participant, the documentary couldn’t just be light-hearted and fun. Without their input, it would have lacked the substantive depth it now has,” explains Schaap.