At the legendary singer’s Academy Award viewing party on Sunday, both Elton John and EJAF chairman David Furnish will introduce the Terry George-directed film to their guests and producer Eric Esrailian of Survival Pictures will commit to match pledges guests make to EJAF via text and live auctions during the party. The goal is to make the night a record-setter for Elton John.
“Such giving has never happened with a film of this scale, we wanted the world to know about it, and we are incredibly grateful,” said Furnish. “We are honored to announce this generosity, thanks to the late philanthropist and humanitarian Kirk Kerkorian.” Survival Pictures began before Kerkorian’s death when the casino, automotive and entertainment mogul entrusted UCLA Doctor Esrailian to produce content about the Armenian culture. Mike Medavoy and William Horberg also began helping to produce the first film and Robin Swicord came aboard for the script.
The result is an over two-hour love story that just flies by with twists and turns and set against the horrific genocide of the Armenian people at the hands of the Turks in 1914, at the outset of World War I. Open Road picked it up for release on April 28; four days earlier marks the commemoration of the Armenian genocide.
“Through our friendships with the Manoukian family and producer Dr. Eric Esrailian … David and I became more personally aware of the Armenian Genocide and its timely relevance to social issues today. The film’s theme #KeepThePromise can be interpreted as keeping the promise to remember and learn from the atrocities of the past, as well as keeping the promise to end AIDS,” said Sir Elton in making the announcement this morning. “At EJAF, we are committed to #KeepThePromise and raise awareness about this powerful film that uses classic storytelling to inspire people to take action today. We are honored to share the important timing of our Oscar-night event to introduce people to The Promise.”
The film will also help fund non-profits geared to helping spread Armenian culture and education as well. “It was Kirk’s wish to be philanthropic. It all starts and stops with his generosity,” said Survival Pictures’ Esrailian, one of the producers on The Promise. “The thinking was not only to make film but make sure we are helping people at the same time. Kirk said, you know, we can do both. By making films that have this kind of social impact and then making sure the proceeds are donated to help others makes a second impact.”
Survival Pictures has also developed a social impact campaign for its film to help educate the global public about the genocides and mass atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries, the discussion about the legal definition of genocide, and historical denialism.
Sir Elton John created EJAF almost 25 years ago, first in the United States in 1992 and then in the United Kingdom in 1993. Since Kerkorian’s death in 2015, Survival Pictures is now co-managed by Esrailian and Anthony Mandekic.