Armenian genocide film's IMDb page flooded with negative reviews even before release
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:48PM EDT
“The Promise,” a new Hollywood drama starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, hasn’t even been widely released yet, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from denouncing it with poor online ratings.
According to Sevag Belian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, that’s because the love story set in the time of mass killings of Armenians during the First World War, has become the target of a “politically motivated campaign.”
“It’s preposterous and ridiculous to say the least,” Belian told CTV News Channel on Thursday, a day before “The Promise” opens in theatres across North America.
The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, but has only been screened a handful of times since then. Nevertheless, more than 126,000 people have rated it on IMDb, where it now has 5.4 stars out of 10.
The intense online reaction is fuelled by people who deny that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred during the First World War by the Ottoman Empire, parts of which formed modern-day Turkey.
Although numerous countries, including Canada, have formally acknowledged the mass killings as genocide, Turkey has refused to do so. The Turkish government maintains that Armenians were not targeted and that victims were collateral damage.
“The fact that thousands of people have surged onto the internet to write negative reviews about a film that they haven’t even seen is a clear indication that this is a politically motivated campaign,” Belian said.
“It’s unfortunately the result of years and years of denial of this atrocity by the Turkish government…Turkey, unfortunately, has not been ready to face its own history.”
Further fuelling the controversy was the March release of another movie that looks very similar to “The Promise.” Starring Ben Kingsley and Josh Hartnett, "The Ottoman Lieutenant" was made by Turkish producers and it highlights Turkey's version of what happened during the First World War.
The makers of “The Promise” accused “The Ottoman Lieutenant” producers of trying to confuse the two movies.
“The Promise” was financed by the late American-Armenian billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian. Numerous Hollywood actors, as well as high-profile athletes and artistsincluding Cher, Kim Kardashian, Sylvester Stallone and Elton John have expressed their support for the film.
“The main message of ‘The Promise’ is that the suffering of the Armenians will not be forgotten,” Belian said. “After so many years, despite the continuous denial, it will not be forgotten.”
With files from The Associated Press