First Blockbuster of its Kind: The Promise

First Blockbuster of its Kind: The Promise

By: Christine Soussa

Some movies are entertaining; they provide amusement or enjoyment, while other movies tell rich stories that inspire thought, move your heart and spark emotions at your core. These movies leave a legacy that people deeply relate to and reference regularly.  “The Promise”, which will be in theaters nationwide April 21, is such a movie. Beautifully rich, it’s a must see!  Without question, the film, Directed by Terry George and co-written by Terry George and Robin Swicord, has internationally acclaimed stars including Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Charlotte Le Bon, Angela Sarafyan, and many more—their performance will absolutely move you.

“The Promise” has many stories within a story. Telling the story of friendship, life, love, survival, accomplishment, history, culture and tradition. The movie will make you laugh, cry, reflect and feel hopeful gratitude.

I had the opportunity to watch the movie during one of its film festival screenings; I had never been to a film festival before and it moved me.

In fact, I’m so excited, that rather than simply wait for you to all watch it in theaters on April 21, I thought I would share some of the reasons why you must watch this movie!

For that, I spoke with “The Promise” producer Eric Esrailian. Eric is a humbly brilliant individual who has dedicated himself to doing good.   I met Eric about 11 years ago at his brother’s wedding.  At the time, I had no idea that “The Promise” was just starting to come together.  A physician by training, Esrailian takes care of people, one patient at a time. He finds purpose in not only building people but also bringing them together, whereby, producing a film is simply an extension.

“The Promise” is not simply a movie but rather a movement that will bring people together for generations to come.

This film is one of its kind on multiple fronts, not only is it the first movie about the Armenians with a nationwide theater release, it is also the first move ever to donate all of its proceeds to charity. Let that sink in for a moment – all money made from the “The Promise” is going toward philanthropic endeavors! Moreover, the title will do more than simply move us on screen, there are many promises being made that will be kept as it relates to charitable efforts and humanitarian aid.

Below are some highlights of our conversation.

{CS} How did this film come together?

{EE} In 2010, Mr. Kirk Kerkorian tasked me to help make a movie. I’m a physician and love managing projects, and for me being involved in this was an honor. For a few years, I worked on the movie quietly; thankfully, I was able to lean on some of my friends who are in the entertainment industry, including Atom Egoyan who Directed Ararat, musician Serj Tankian, Jim Gianopulos CEO of 20th Century Fox, the late Tom Sherak and many more.

As the movie began to develop and gain momentum, more people became involved such as Mike Medavoy. I watched Robin Swicord structure the movie scene by scene, with incredible heart and passion.  I am here now in Washington DC with Terry George and am struck by what a wonderful spokesperson and advocate he is. In this moment, it is incredible to drive social impact through telling deep, beautiful, and authentic stories with meaning.

{CS} It is evident that friendship is a cornerstone of this movie.  Having seen the movie, the chemistry between the actors is magical and I imagine that bond is the same off screen…

{EE} I wish Kirk Kerkorian could be here to see his vision come to full fruition. This movie starts and stops with him.  He was an incredibly unique and generous person. I am blessed to have met such an amazing individual.

It’s true what you say about friendships both on and off screen. The bond that the entire team has is rare. Globally and in Hollywood, many movies are made, stories filmed, often times it’s just a job, then everyone goes home.  The deep friendships resulting from this film are rare and exceptional.

{CS} I’m so proud of the entire team and am excited to see what the future holds. This movie has so much heart and is so layered, how are people reacting to the film thus far?

{EE} The reaction is incredible, I have been to many premieres and screenings; the audience reaction is phenomenal. There are many critical moments throughout the movie and watching the audience react is incredibly heartwarming.

It was important for us to make the film as accurate and authentic as possible, this includes everything from costuming and cinematography. For example, we wanted to showcase village life in Armenia the way it was – we wanted to capture its beauty, simplicity, and energy.  Family and friendship was also critical to the movie; throughout the film, you see moments where friendships saved lives or were incredibly helpful. We wanted to showcase the importance of family and did this both through fun times such as celebration but also in somber moments as families being torn apart and displaced. As you saw, the movie is very real.

It’s about the realness of life, here you have people living their life and then War impacts their lives in unspeakable ways. You see how this impacts every single character in the movie from Christian Bale, who plays Chris Myers an American Journalist, to  Charlotte Le Bon who plays Ana, and Marwan Kenzari who plays Emre.  So the richness in stories and perspective is amazing.

I am constantly grateful and inspired by the commitment the team had to maintaining accuracy and authenticity. For example, Oscar Isaac who plays Mikael Pogosian, is a medical student who moves to a cosmopolitan city and goes to a top medical school where is excels in his studies—then suddenly his life plans are devastated by the systematic ostracization of the Armenian people.   This is something many people can identify with because every day each of us wakes up with the plan of going through our day without the dark skies of war.

{CS} What do you think the essence of the movie is?

{EE} This is a unique opportunity in time where we can extend philanthropic endeavors and tell historically accurate moving stories. At the end of the day, stories are powerful, stories are important and we must continue to tell them.  At the core, this movie is about life, survival, love and hope.

When we put together the poster for the movie, it was important that we include the Armenian flag. Certainly the Armenian flag didn’t exist in 1915, but it was important that we include it as a symbol to showcase the hopeful beauty in believing in the future.

The promise poster

About AIWA-SF:

The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global non-profit dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives,  AIWA is dedicated to impacting positive social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage.

To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org. To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.

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2 thoughts on “First Blockbuster of its Kind: The Promise

  1. I am overwhelmed by your review! There is great hope for the future. Thank you so very, very much. We must all learn how to work with and support each other in all good and noble works. Will this movie be playing in Armenia the same time it is playing in America?

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