Veteran filmmaker Ralph Winter calls The Promise the movie that Hollywood didn’t want to touch.
But it is a project he couldn’t resist.
The historical drama opens this weekend and recounts the true story of the Armenian Genocide, a largely forgotten episode from World War I in which 1.5 million Armenian Christians living within the Ottoman Empire were exterminated. It sometimes is called the “forgotten Holocaust.”
It is told through the eyes of three fictional characters: Mikael (Oscar Isaac), a medical student; Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an artist from Paris; and Chris (Christian Bale), a photographer from the U.S. All three are living in Constantinople – modern-day Istanbul – when the war breaks out.
Winter, an executive producer of the film, said filmmakers got pushback from every segment of society, including the studios.
“They didn’t distribute this movie. They don’t want to touch it,” he told SCENES.
The nation of Turkey, which was formed out of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, still denies that the genocide even took place. That has led to some awkward moments in U.S.-Turkey relations, such as Barack Obama calling it a genocide as a presidential candidate but then refusing to use the same term after he was elected.