By Meredith Dowling
HAMILTON, N.Y. (Colgate News) — When filmmaker Joe Berlinger, Colgate Class of ’83 appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25 for the premiere of his latest documentary, “Intent to Destroy,” he had another member of the Colgate community by his side: English and humanities professor Peter Balakian, whose class Berlinger had taken years ago.
“Intent to Destroy” takes a close look at the Armenian Genocide and the Turkish government’s continued denial of it. Balakian appears frequently in the film to provide commentary on the genocide’s historical context and the way stories about it have evolved over time.
The film marks a departure from Berlinger’s usual style of documentary filmmaking, where he chronicles events as they unfold in real time, such as in “Brother’s Keeper,” about an alleged murder in rural New York, and the “Paradise Lost” trilogy, about three men wrongfully convicted of murder. However, “Intent to Destroy” still adheres to Berlinger’s core purpose.
“My intention as a filmmaker has always been to seek the truth, especially in circumstances that risk distorting or silencing it,” said Berlinger. “Throughout my career, I have used my camera to give a voice to the voiceless, whether it be those caught in an unforgiving judicial system or fighting to be heard from deep within the US penal system, and I hope to bring this same force to Armenians worldwide.”
Berlinger developed the idea for Intent to Destroy when he heard about director Terry George’s latest film, “The Promise,” which was in production at the time. “The Promise” — starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon — is an epic love story that unfolds in the midst of the Armenian Genocide.