HOLLYWOOD—The legendary TCL Chinese Theater on Wednesday was the setting for the Los Angeles premiere of the much-anticipated Armenian Genocide-themed film “The Promise,” which attracted a slew of starts who used the opportunity to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
The film, which is produced by Kirk Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures, is directed by the Academy Award winning director Terry George of Hotel Rwanda fame and stars Oscar Issac and Christian Bale as individuals caught in the middle of the Armenian Genocide. “The Promise” will land in theaters nationwide on April 21.
Among those walking the red carpet Wednesday was the legendary Armenian-American singer-actress Cher, who took the opportunity to praise the film but also to call on the United States and United Kingdom to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
She criticized the US and UK for their governments’ refusal to use the word genocide in describing the events of 1915 saying that Armenia has “nothing to give them.”
“We’re small. Armenia is landlocked. We have no oil. We have nothing to give them. How much would it take [them to recognize the Genocide]?” asked the actress.
“Armenians are a small group of people and we have nothing that they’re interested in,” said Cher adding, “You’d think they’d do it out of the goodness of their hearts.”
She also said she was not hopeful that President Donald Trump would recognize the Genocide.
Cher was joined on the red carpet by Kim and Kourtney Kardashian who have continually used their celebrity to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
“So proud of the movie #ThePromise. Everyone please go see it and finally hear the story of the Armenian people,” Kim Kardashian tweeted shortly after the screening.
Joining Bale on the red carpet were fellow “The Promise” cast members Charlotte Le Bon, Shohreh Aghdashloo, James Cromwell, Angela Sarafyan and others. Also attending the premiere was Serj Tankian who worked on the film’s score along with musician Chris Cornell, who recorded a song for the film. Issac did not attend the LA premiere because he and his partner are anticipating the imminent birth of their baby.
“There was an extraordinary man, Kirk Kerkorian, who knew this industry and who knew that a film about the Armenian Genocide would never be made,” said James Cromwell who plays the role Ambassador Henry Morgenthau.
“Finally at the end of his life, he said, ‘I will pony up $100 million, we will make this film.’ And even with Terry George as director, $100 million, and a script, they still could not sell this picture to Hollywood. Mike Medavoy stepped up, but for the rest of Hollywood, ‘no,’ because they didn’t want to be associated with something they thought was going to go in the toilet or cause a lot of ire with any other project they had that might go Turkey, might be denied the Turkish market,” he said.
System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, “The Promise’s” executive music consultant, who has long advocated for genocide recognition, said Obama’s broken promise was “extremely disappointing.”
“It was very disappointing that he [Obama] would cow to political capital like that having to do with Turkey’s pressure being a NATO ally,” he said. “As we can see, [Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is a madman and Turkey needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs Turkey.”
“When we were at the Toronto International Film Festival at its original premiere, this is the L.A. premiere, but that was the first time it was seen and only a theater full of people saw it,” Tankian said. “We had tens of thousands of 0 votes stemming from Turkey on IMDb so there was a campaign to try to discredit the film. I thought ‘that’s really ridiculous.’ This is a film — it’s media, it’s cultural. To use it as a political weapon in that sense is unfair. But that’s good, that means the denialists are afraid and we want them to be afraid.”
Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, who wrote a song for the film, said being swept away by the drama will help audiences grasp the powerful message.
“I went to school in the U.S. and I wasn’t taught about the Armenian or Greek genocide in history class,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s due in part to the denial of it or what it is. It’s one of those things where it’s a story that needs to be told. And I think it needs to be told and retold. … We need to at some point as human beings preempt this from happening. Genocide is occurring right now on this planet. It’s not something of the past, it’s something unfortunately of now, and unfortunately probably will be of the future.”
Tech celebrity and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian accompanied his 95-year-old grandfather, John, to the premiere.
“So honored to #KeepThePromise here at the LA premiere with one of my heroes, my grandfather John Ohanian–95 years young, who walked the red carpet with me like a boss,” Ohanian said in an Instagram post following the screening.
“May our people continue to thrive all over the world. They failed to annihilate us and they will never silence us,” he added.
“Hopefully this epic film brings more awareness to and recognition for the Armenian Genocide,” said Ohanian. He expressed gratitude to Kirk Kerkorian and Eric Esrailian “for bringing our story to the big screen in grand fashion.”