Serj Tankian Documentary Focuses on System of a Down Singer’s Activism

A new documentary about System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, Truth to Power, will examine the role the singer played in the 2018 Armenian Revolution and his history of activism. The film will come out via Oscilloscope Laboratories on February 19th.

The doc features exclusive interviews with Tankian and the singer’s own footage. It focuses on how a quest for social justice guided the singer from a young age and how he was able to use music as a vehicle for his messages of change. Truth to Power also shows how Tankian writes music. It features interviews with his System of a Down bandmates, producer Rick Rubin, and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. It also features a score by Tankian.

Tankian told Rolling Stone about the film in a 2018 interview. “[It’s] looking through my eyes at how message becomes reality through the arts,” he said. “Instead of focusing on me as an artist, it asks, how does one’s message come to fruition? Can music change the world?”

Truth to Power’s director, Garin Hovannisian, previously made another documentary about the revolution, I Am Not Alone, and a film about the Armenian Genocide, 1915, for which Tankian provided the score. Its executive producer, Joe Berlinger, made the documentaries Paradise Lost, about the West Memphis Three, and Some Kind of Monster, about Metallica. Live Nation also produced it.

“With Oscilloscope and Live Nation at our back, the music and message of our film can now touch the hearts and minds of audiences across the world, inspiring all of us to speak — and bring — truth to power,” Hovannisian said in a statement.

“We at O-Scope are exceptionally fortunate to have [founder and Beastie Boy] Adam Yauch’s righteous social consciousness in our DNA,” the company’s president, Dan Berger, said. “At a time when it’s needed more than ever, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to both speak and partner on Truth to Power. Garin’s film is a timely testament to Serj and System of a Down’s tireless work, talent, and the values they hold — values that can and will make our world a better place.”

Tankian recently joined his System of a Down bandmates in the studio to record their first new music in 15 years. The two new songs, “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz,” were recorded to help raise awareness about the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, an ethnically Armenian area within Azerbaijan that is under siege. The band later reported that, in the space of a week, the songs had helped them raise $600,000 for aid in the region.

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