The Impact of The Promise

April 22, 2017

This weekend The Promise opened in theaters, and we received so many messages of support. But there is one message we wanted to share, as it captures the essence of why we made the film, and what we hoped it would achieve. Hannah Frueh posted this message on Facebook: 

I will never be able to put into words an experience that I had tonight. Earlier today, I decided I was going to see a movie, The Promise, after I got off of work – this was at 8pm. The films show time would not be until 8pm. I looked up tickets early this morning, and the show was already almost sold out. At around 1pm, on my lunch, I bought my tickets. There were five seats left in the theater. I checked on a later show time. There were five seats left in the theater. No theater, no matter what I am going to see, has ever been that packed so early on unless it was for a huge blockbuster (think Star Wars.) I was in shock and unreasonably frustrated that I wouldn’t be getting the greatest seat in the house.

I got to the theater early tonight. Half an hour early. When I walked in, there was no one in the theater, so I sat down in my seat (one of the four that had been left) and ate some nachos while I waited for the movie to start. A family walked in to take the seats beside me next. Not just any family, but a family of eleven people. Old and young, grandparents, their children, and younger adolescents. As they started to take their seats, I noticed that one woman stood, assigning them all their seats, reading out where they were supposed to be. Why? None of them spoke English. They were Armenian.

The Promise is a movie about the Armenian Genocide. If you don’t know what that is, don’t feel bad – most people don’t. I did not, until I started seeing promotion for this film (I love Oscar Isaac okay, I am weak.)

The rest of the theater filled and I paid little attention to the patrons, because I was so interested in the people beside me. The family reacted in such heartfelt ways throughout the entirety of the film – gasping, crying. But, mind you, the entire movie, save for two lines near the end, is spoken entirely in English. When those two aforementioned lines were spoken in the film, the older woman beside me started to sob. Then I noticed, the whole theater started to sob. As the credits began to roll, the theater burst in unanimous applause – not an unusual thing for Los Angeles, but this was special. When a name appeared on the screen. Kirk Kerkorian, one of the producers, the man beside me whispered “that’s him, that’s the man.”

Kirk Kerkorian was the largest financial contributor to The Promise. He passed away before it was completed, but he believed so strongly in the need to tell the story of this movie that he placed a large portion of his finances into it.

As the lights went up and the theater began to empty I realized that no one in that theater was American. So few of them were speaking English. When I stepped outside the theater, I stopped dead in my tracks, because all around me were families shaking hands, greeting one another in a language I didn’t understand. But my friends, I know what they must have been saying, because there were tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, relief in the way their words were formed. I have never been so overcome by emotion in my life. I started to cry, and once I reached my car, I was taking long, deep breaths – I was hyperventilating. My heart felt as though it had been punched.

“There is a line in the film, that “our revenge will be to survive,” and they did. Please, go see this film. It is so, so important. Do not forget history. Do not let lives go in vain. Don’t let the past become a secret. Do some good in this world. All of the profits of this film are going to non-profit organizations, which is completely unheard of for this industry.

Please, I’m begging you. Go see this. It is by no means one of the best films I’ve ever seen, but it is good, and its story is so important. See it. Remember it. I can only hope that your experience is half as humbling as mine.”