Letter to the Editor, April 24, 2017: ‘The Promise’ a New Film about the Armenian Genocide

By Kathryn Eskandarian

The making and release of the new movie, The Promise, is truly significant. This is the first major motion picture made about the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Turkish Government in 1915. This crime, the first genocide of the 20th century, continues to be denied by the Turkish Government to this day. There have been various attempts to bring this historical event to mainstream movie theaters throughout the years, but all have failed due to Turkey’s overt political pressure to prevent this. The most famous was the movie, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh based on Franz Werfel’s well-known novel. MGM was in pre-production in 1934 when the Turkish Government and subsequently U.S. State Department brought enormous pressure to bear on Louis B. Mayer, who eventually decided not to proceed with the project.

The Promise is an epic, moving film by Oscar-winning director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and stars Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. It tells of a love story set against the backdrop of the Genocide and World War I in 1915 Constantinople. The timing of the movie’s release coincides with April 24th, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, on which Armenians throughout the world commemorate the victims and survivors.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Wikipedia

Bedford is home to many Armenian-Americans actively involved in various organizations and youth groups which promote education and recognition of the Armenian Genocide as well as provide humanitarian aid. This is an important film for Bedford residents of Armenian descent, but hopefully will resonate with all who believe in human rights issues. As long as governments are allowed to commit crimes against humanity and are not met with world condemnation and outrage and brought to justice with proper recognition and reparations for victims and their families, the cycle of violence will continue. If this movie helps to promote awareness of a genocide often suppressed due to political reasons, it serves a valuable purpose not only for the Armenian Genocide but for all human rights atrocities.

I encourage people to see this poignant film while playing in local theaters. It was financed solely by Kirk Kerkorian, the Armenian-American philanthropist who spent $100 million dollars on the production. He passed away before filming began. All proceeds will go to various non-profit humanitarian endeavors including developing a human rights institute at UCLA, supporting Elton John’s AIDS Foundation and many other groups focused on human rights.

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