The word ‘genocide’ was coined to describe one of the most awful crimes of the 20th Century - and yet many people today won’t know what happened to Turkey’s Armenian Christians between 1915 and 1923. A religious and ethnic minority in a country experiencing a tide of nationalism, the Armenians became a target of persecution. Eventually over 1.5 million people were killed and many others enslaved or displaced during a state-orchestrated campaign of violence.
To this day, the Turkish government still denies that these events took place. Pope Francis took a stand during a 2015 memorial ceremony by explicitly referring to the Armenian genocide, with the pointed words, ‘Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!’ Benedict XV, who was pope during the time of the genocide, tried in vain to halt the persecution of the Armenians - among whom were thousands of Catholics.
New film The Promise (in cinemas from 28th April) portrays history through the lens of a fictional story - a love triangle between trainee doctor Mikael (Oscar Isaac), artist Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) and American journalist Chris (Christian Bale). These three young people, living in the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, find their ordinary lives disrupted and their loyalties tested as events unfold around them.
Mikael and Ana, who are both Armenian, are forced to flee. Their plight and the scenes they witness bear a startling resemblance to the refugee stories making today’s headlines: in this sense The Promise is not just a piece of history, but an urgent call to action for all of us. "I’m a witness to history," says Chris, citing his determination to stay in Turkey and report on what’s happening, even though it means risking his own life.
In today’s media-saturated world, we are all witnesses to the history unfolding in places like Syria, Eritrea, Iran and Sudan. The Promise challenges us to raise our voices for persecuted and displaced people everywhere - on behalf of the God who promises refuge to everyone.
The Promise will be released in UK cinemas on 28th April. Damaris Media are providing a free Church Booklet, see: www.thepromisefilm.co.uk/booklet/ to guide discussion around the film.
This article comes from Damaris Media, who create free film resources for community groups.
Read more at damarismedia.com and keep up to date on their latest resources by subscribing to their e-newsletter at http://damarismedia.us11.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=46cfcc9c2fabf375198e7b500&id=46ca3f60d8
Watch a trailer for The Promise here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=olcIido6EL4