NEW YORK — 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 creators, 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” 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 starts, 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, Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, 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, more than 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. Finalists of George’s filmmaking challenge who told human rights stories through 60-second videos were honored during the masterclass.