Terry George and Eric Esrailian are awarded the Order of Saint Sahak-Saint Mesrop of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenians honored The Promise director Terry George and producer Eric Esrailian who arrived in Yerevan on September 21 to join a series of memorable events devoted to the movie and its producers, including the late Kirk Kerkorian.
The trip began on Friday afternoon with a press conference. George and Esrailian shed light on the main challenges of production and distribution of the movie, as well as its educational impact. “I want to thank people of Armenia and AGBU because it is a tremendous honor for us to be in Armenia, especially after the long journey of the film,” said Esrailian. “It would not have been possible without the dedication, courage, bravery and generosity of the late Kirk Kerkorian. This was entirely his vision and passion.”
Inspired by the movie and its original score, “We Promise,” a musical tribute featuring the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, pop stars and dancers premiered at the Opera Theater in Yerevan on Friday evening.Tigran Petrosyan joined Swiss singer Veronika Stalder to perform “Sari Siroun Yar” arranged and recorded by Grammy-winning artist Serj Tankian and Stalder for the film. Armenian pop stars, including Iveta Mukuchyan, Tigran Petrosyan and Narine Dovlatyan, took the stage to sing a touching rendition of the title song “The Promise” written by the late Chris Cornell who believed strongly in the film’s social action movement. Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan, Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, AGBU President Berge Setrakian along with foreign ambassadors and dignitaries attended the performance.
Above all, the visit to Tsitsernakaberd on Saturday morning held a symbolic meaning for both guests. In George’s words, it was a true highlight of his efforts over the recent years. “This visit sums up everything that I worked for over the last four years and brings into focus what really cinema and the power of cinema can be about, to try to commemorate the loss of lives and the horrible crime that was committed. So, this is the most emotional moment of the whole production of The Promise itself, the most important moment of the project,” he said.
Later, over 150 people, including filmmakers and journalists, attended the two-hour masterclass held by Terry George and Eric Esraillian and hosted by AGBU Armenia and Creative Armenia, a cultural non-profit. George shared his approach to storytelling and filmmaking. At the masterclass, finalists of George’s filmmaking challenge who told human rights stories through 60-second videos were honored.
During an intimate dinner at Yerevan’s Cafesjian Museum, AGBU President Berge Setrakian presented Terry George and Eric Esrailian with a meaningful and touching gift, Book of Gratitude. Armenians from as far as South Africa, Jordan and Australia sent letters and notes sharing their feelings and appreciation for the film. The Promise was profoundly moving for those who saw a striking resemblance between the suffering of their ancestors and lives of the movie’s characters. The guests were also given a sculpture made to resemble the camera of journalist Chris Myers, Christian Bale’s character in the movie, who said, “Without journalists, there would be no Armenians.” The sculpture symbolizes the great service of journalists and others rendered during the Armenian Genocide, documenting the atrocities and exposing the truth to the world.
“We dedicate this book to the many individuals who stood up and gave a voice to our story,” reads the gratitude letter of AGBU President Berge Setrakian. “For seventy-seven days, the talented production team and actors filmed a series of images that pulled directly from our collective history. The gratitude of the Armenian people cannot be quantified, but we have compiled here for you, a symbolic collection of seventy-seven letters and notes from around the world demonstrating how your efforts have touched our lives.”
The meeting with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, on Sunday was another important highlight of the trip. Appreciating the significance of The Promise and its producers’ tremendous efforts, His Holiness awarded George and Esrailian the Order of Saint Sahak-Saint Mesrop. His Holiness told the guests that he acknowledges the challenge of making such an impressive motion picture that depicts the great tragedy of the Armenian people.
The guests also attended Sunday Divine Liturgy and a requiem service for the late Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin I, Kirk Kerkorian and Chris Cornell at the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The Promise is a major historical drama depicting the Armenian Genocide through a touching love story. After its mainstream release in the United States and Canada in April, The Promise continues to open in theaters across the world. Produced by Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures, The Promise features an all-star international cast, including Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Angela Sarafyan. The movie’s original score was created by Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared with the title song “The Promise” written and performed by the late Chris Cornell. All proceeds from the film have been designated to various charities with an emphasis on human rights causes.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org