The Promise, a 2016 film set in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, is coming to Cyprus, and with it a chance to get to know more about the Armenian genocide carried out by Turkey 100 years ago.
The film is about a love triangle which develops between Mikael (Oscar Isaac), an Armenian medical student, Chris (Christian Bale), a Paris-based American journalist, and Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian-born woman raised in France, immediately before the Armenian genocide. It was a box office bomb, grossing just $10 million against its $90 million budget, although the studio noted the main purpose of the film was to bring attention to the story, not make money.
This is precisely what the Armenians in Cyprus want to achieve.
“It’s sad that there are so many people in the world who still don’t know what happened 100 years ago,” representative of the Armenian National Committee of Cyprus Simon Aynedjian said. “People don’t care and they quickly move on to other subjects forgetting even about refugees after two days and paying attention to trivial issues such as the lipstick of celebrities instead of political events which affect us directly.”
“It is very important for us [Armenians] because we are the result of this political historical action. The fact that I live in Cyprus and 70 to 80 per cent of Armenians live outside Armenia is because we are refugees.”
Aynedjian explained that this is much like the story in the film where refugees miraculously survive in the end.
“We all have such a story, because those who don’t are dead,” he added.
In the film, the American ambassador pleads with the Ottoman leadership to stop the war, receiving the reply that there is no war, only the relocation of a group of people.
There was in fact, Aynedjian said, no war, which is the fighting between armies, but a genocide, and people literally got away with murder for which they were until now not held accountable.
According to the Armenian representative, the aim of the film is not to be vindictive but to bring about a political closure. At the moment the borders between Turkey and Armenia are closed, and relations are bad.
“People need to start a dialogue to free Turkey from its guilty past and Turkey needs to make amends.”
Many states have by now acknowledged the genocide, aided by information from the internet and social networking, but there are people who still want to supress the information, Aynedjian said.
When the film premiered in Canada to an audience of 3,000 people, he added, it was voted by 56,000 as 1 out of 10 on IMDb, badmouthing it, although only the original group could have seen it.
‘The Promise’ was first shown in Nicosia at an advance premiere for government officials and on Thursday the press was invited to watch it. It will be screened daily in Cineplex cinemas around the island.