“The Promise” is close to opening date after a huge USA “coming out” at the Oscars in February 2017. The newest trailer came out last week and constitutes the last piece of Hollywood campaigning before the film comes out on 21 April, several days before the 102nd commemoration of the tragedy, which was the genocide of 1915.
Since last October, the noise around this endeavor has been mostly centered throughout the Armenian diaspora around the world: overjoy because finally, the big screen is showing this period, which means that the tragic events cannot be hidden away as several would like; some discontent because few Armenian actors feature in the film’s roles; and apprehension.
The film follows a young man, who arrives in Istanbul in 1914 for university. It recounts the entire chain of events from 1914 throughout the events of 1915 and 1916. The fact that it centers on the turmoil and tragedy of those years is symbolic for the entire Armenian community and the entire Oriental Christian community today. The Turkish have even made a film on those same years to counter “The Promise”, trying to show their version, which plays out with almost no violence at all. The Armenian organizations are asking their communities to boycott that particular film because once again, denial is declared.
The film comes at a time when more and more international entities are recognizing the genocide of 1915, also named the Armenian genocide. It also comes at a time when Armenia is becoming well known in several international circles: the deal between the EU and Armenia in February cementing political and economic ties and the entrance of Armenia into the Eurasian Economic Union (backed and led by Russia) last year in 2016. Armenia wants to connect with its neighbors and the international community, who are willing to cultivate foreign relations, or international and national entities, with whom they are close, in terms of democracy questions and human rights amongst other issues. This year, the deal with the EU shall be signed in May.
The film, though, also comes at a time when regional conflicts are catching up with Armenia: Armenian refugees from Iraq and Syria are present in Armenia since the beginning of the decade (2010-2012) and since the 2014 Daech territorial control; Azerbaijan is considering hard power with regards to the Artsahk republic, which recently changed its constitution, something the Council of Europe is keeping an eye on; and the situation in Turkey, which revolves around a lack of human and civic rights, and a rise in authoritarian use of power. Governance of the State is becoming governance by a one-man show in Turkey.
“The Promise” is therefore a long-awaited completed project for the Armenians and all the Christians of the Middle East, the international community and, also in some ways, the Hollywood entreprise. The campaign officially started first in October, with the Toronto Film Festival, and then over the past weekend and a few days ago. The producer of the film, Armenian-American Eric Esrailian, reached out to the Armenian diaspora to spread the message #KeepThePromise and #NeverStaySilent in and out of the community, as well as on social media.
Rendez-vous 21 April and, in the meantime, watch the trailer below, courtesy of Open Road Films, The Armenian Weekly, and Youtube: