Armenian Genocide Revealed

'The Promise,' a new film produced by UCLA TFT Executive Board Member Dr. Eric Esrailian, shines a light on a marginalized historical event

By Noela Hueso

In 1915, an event was set in motion that some still deny ever took place.

Spearheaded by the ruling political party of the Ottoman Empire, the lives of 1.5 million innocent Armenians living in Turkey — men, women and children — were extinguished in an atrocity that historians label as the first genocide of the 20th century.

On Friday, April 21, Survival Pictures will release The Promise, a new film produced by Dr. Eric Esrailian, a UCLA TFT executive board member and professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, which shines a light on the Armenian Genocide, a horrific historic event that is too little recognized outside of Armenian communities.

“This attempt to eradicate an entire nation has almost disappeared from the history books because of collective denial and political expediency,” says director Terry George (In the Name of the Father, Hotel Rwanda). “It is a story that, I believe, demands to be told in cinematic form.”

Starring Academy Award winning actor Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac and Charlotte Le Bon, The Promise is a love story wrapped up in the historical events of the day and the first major motion picture to tackle the subject of the Armenian Genocide. It has been a passion project for Esrailian, the great-grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors, since 2012. That’s when Armenian businessman Kirk Kerkorian formed Survival Pictures to tell the story of the genocide in cinematic form. Though Kerkorian passed away in 2015, Esrailian has kept The Promise alive.

“We hope to inspire people to take action to help those in the world today and to promote peace, love, and tolerance in the world for people of all backgrounds…but the denial must stop,” Esrailian recently wrote in The Armenian Weekly. “This film will show the world a truth that has been denied for far too long.”

In conjunction with the release of the film, which is timed to coincide with the annual recognition of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, Survival Pictures plans to launch a social impact campaign to help educate the public about the genocides and mass atrocities that have taken place in both the 20th and 21st centuries. It will also address the denial of historical events and the legal definition of genocide.

“As a filmmaker, my challenge is to find stories and characters that allow me to take cinemagoers inside an event about which they had little or no knowledge, and show them that the human spirit can survive and triumph in the most adverse of circumstances,” says George.

Posted: April 13, 2017