The Intent to Destroy: The Making of ‘The Promise’
05 May 2017
“When I heard The Promise was being made, I knew it was an historic opportunity to make not a traditional making-of film, but to elevate the genre to tell a much larger story, one that would complement Terry’s film. Take the massacre scene in The Promise – all the bodies on-screen are clothed. That’s because no one wants to go into a cinema and be surrounded by a real massacre. But a documentary can show those images in a more graphic way. A feature filmmaker and a documentary maker can tackle the same subject and persuade audiences in different ways.” – Joe Berlinger, Director of Intent to Destroy Globe and Mail
On the heels of the international debut of The Promise, Documentary legend, Joe Berlinger, has produced a film-within-a-film, combining archival materials with behind-the-scenes experiences of its cast. Embedded in the production are deeper inquiries into the ongoing suppression and denial of the Armenian Genocide, and an emphasis on how far the Turkish government is willing to go in order to control the narrative of the massacre.
The documentary encapsulates the mission of Zoryan Institute’s work – Armenians must continue to combat denial narratives set by Turkey and its allies by voicing the unvarnished truth about the massacres in 1915.
Intent to Destroy, very appropriately titled straight out of the Genocide Convention, Article II captures the methods, means and consequences of denial:
From the Globe and Mail to Salon to Toronto’s own Exclaim! Magazine, we share with you a bouquet of select reviews from around the world:
“The slaughter of the Armenian people becomes most visceral when described by its survivors, who clearly remain haunted by its impact even in old age. The horrific nature of the killings reverberates even while filming The Promise, with depictions of the genocide becoming incredibly emotional for some of the actors on set and reducing them to tears.” Exclaim! Magazine
“As a student of the Holocaust — I was a German major in college and I was obsessed with the Holocaust — I was always aware of the Armenian genocide. I was always perplexed why this human tragedy has been allowed to be treated as a debate rather than actual history. On the eve of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Hitler gave a speech to his generals, getting them psyched to be ruthless, by saying, “After all, who remembers the Armenians?”‘
-Joe Berlinger, in an interview with Atom Egoyan in Salon.