When the performance ended, producer Eric Esrailian addressed the audience, as did the Oscar-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who gave credit to the Armenian people as the real author of the film and said he was humbled to be here in Yerevan.
Hardly had the curtain come down on one triumphant production, the moviemaker found himself surrounded by a bevy of admirers and dancers.
Some audience members, the participants of the performance and media representatives had poured into backstage, trying their best to sneak near the world-famous director who was humbly smiling and answering questions and just being as nice as one can possibly be.
In a conversation with PanARMENIAN.Net, the filmmaker remembered about the positive and negative feedback he received from Turkish individuals, about the most important part of his visit to Armenia, about future projects and much more.
“I have received personal feedback from Turkish people. Some of them said that it (the Armenian Genocide - Ed.) didn’t happen, and others apologized and said that it did happen, and that they realized from the film the extent of that tragedy. But I have heard nothing from the Turkish government or the Turkish community,” he explained.
According to him, while organizations lobbying for Turkey did not contact the director personally, they did write or order articles in the media.
“But the truth will come out,” he said.
“The facts that I include in my movies, I make sure that they are true and precise. In this film, “The Promise”, we created a fictional love story, which was to help educate people, and you want to entertain the audience, as well as educate them. But I always make sure that the political and humanitarian situations are factually accurate.”
Weighing in on the response that the film received in the months following its release, the director says he has developed a sort of mantra in the past about how to think about the reception of difficult stories like this one, which is “how will it play in Peoria, Illinois?”
“Critics were divided but audiences liked this story. If you go to IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll see that we have an enormous audience rating, so it played very well in Peoria.”
The director who has written or directed (or both) films about the first and last genocides of the 20th century said he is planning to come back to a similar subject.
“My next project is about the Iraqi refugees in Damascus and their situation which I consider to be genocidal,” he said.
The helmer revealed that he is currently negotiating with the author of a book about Iraqi refugees for making a film adaptation and revealed that Canadian journalist Deborah Campbell’s “A Disappearance in Damascus” is what he hopes to turn into a feature film.
Asked whether he is familiar with the Armenian cinema as a whole and whether he has ever watched an Armenian movie, and most importantly, films about the Genocide, the director nodded positively and cited the most watched and famous works that shed a light on the killings of 1.5 million people in the Ottoman Empire.
“I have watched Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat”, Fatih Akin’s “The Cut”, and I watched “America, America,” George said, adding that he has seen a host of other films too.
After a busy first day in Yerevan, the filmmaker said he would visit the Armenian Genocide memorial which he visited four years ago, and he’ll plant a tree there, as “this is the high point of my visit as I’ll go and pay homage to those who passed away.”
“Also, I am going to meet the pontiff and several other people, so I have quite a few things to do here.”
To the final question about whether he is going to come back to Armenia after visiting the country twice, the filmmaker responded clearly and concisely: many, many times.
The evening was organized by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).