Morales Fellow Emily Mkrtichian Premieres New Film “There Was, There Was Not”

March 26 2024

Emily Mkrtichian, a Morales Post-Doctoral Fellow in the U’s Department of Film & Media Arts, premiered her new film "There Was, There Was Not" earlier this month at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. The film explores the inner lives of four women living in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as war—both past and present—affects their daily lives. 

The film not only received positive reviews, but was also featured as one of Indiewire’s “5 True/False Film Festival Titles [That] Deserve a Home Now,” where Susannah Gruder wrote that the film “emphasizes bravery and resilience in the face of the war while also serving as a time capsule of their lost, beloved homeland.”

“As a record of the psychological traumas and emotional hurts war and displacement can instigate, giving us a kind of before-and-after picture, ‘There Was, There Was Not’ is a powerful tribute to a former country, and a frustrating illustration of a people’s dream turned nightmare,” wrote Robert Daniels on

On The Moveable Fest, Stephen Saito wrote “Rather than scenes of bombed out buildings, the film surfaces the usually invisible destruction of a culture in real time as the women put aside any hopes they had to simply survive and the bifurcated structure of the film, shrewdly designed by Mkrtichian and co-editor Alexandria Bombach (“On Her Shoulders”), doesn’t suggest a before and after so much as an ongoing test of resilience that ebbs and flows as the situation calls for it.”

In addition to Mkrtichian’s significant success at the festival, there was another triumph for her and the U: U Film MFA Candidate Ryan Ross premiered his short film “Night Audit” at the festival. This film was created by Ross in one of Mkrtichian’s classes, under her mentorship.

Check back for updates on “There Was, There Was Not.” In the meantime, an exclusive clip of the film is available at the International Documentary Association website.