Since its screening at the last year’s Tribeca Festival, the film INTENT TO DESTROY: DEATH, DENIAL & DEPICTION has been shown at numerous festivals, where it was selected primarily on account of its pressing and engaged theme. The thirteenth documentary film by the director Joe Berlinger, now already a renown documentary filmmaker, examines a very sensitive theme – the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey during the World War One – and poses the question why such a tragic historical event has been censored. Hence, Berlinger decides to expose the origin and the nature of the crime. And, in fact, it goes one step further! He unmasks the conspiracy of the Hollywood clique, which by censoring films in effect censored mass crimes, exploring in that manner a violent history of the Armenian genocide, as well as the last century Turkey’s denial of its involvement. In order to tell the story, Berlinger has compiled a massive documentation concerning the nature of the crime and created an exceptionally relevant high-budget work, despite all political pressure and threats of retaliation.
In the film INTENT TO DESTROY: DEATH, DENIAL & DEPICTION the author becomes a chronicler of the true events taking place in the 1915 genocide, treating them as if they happened yesterday. During those years, the Otoman Turks annihilated more than 1.5 million Armenians. Berlinger - as a chronicler - is equally interested in how historical events and concealed crimes actually affect and burden modern Turkey, as the key figure behind them. During the entire film, the author is focused on all efforts made by Turkey to free itself from the crimes, as well as on revealing how Turkish officials used diplomatic coercion to subvert international academia, sway over advocates and use Turkey’s geographic placement and geopolitical connections to strong-arm America and other key allies into accepting their version of history.
Much more than politics, the film explores a cultural suppression insisted on by Turkey, through which it promoted its version of history. In fact, in many ways Berlinger builds on the 2016 film THE PROMISE, the first completely produced big Hollywood film on the Armenian genocide, successfully made only thanks to the fact that was fully financed by the billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian Christian, whose family witnessed the genocide and whose 1980s efforts to make the movie failed, precisely on account of the fact that Turkey found in the USA a strong ally in suppressing the horrible events. The Berlinger’s film reveals other movies that dealt with the genocide and were not able to reach wider audience – which is, actually, the highest achievement of his documentary! Before THE PROMISE, featuring Hollywood stars Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, there had been a whole series of censored or put-aside films, hidden by Americans. Now, Berlinger uses the filming of THE PROMISE as a background story for one of the versions of the horrendous massacre, through which it explores the fact and all complexities of the genocide itself, as well as many-years long Turkish campaign of its denial.
By combining a cinéma vérité approach, never-before-seen archive material and interviews with former government officials, historians, artists and professor – giving, on the way, a special place to those who claim to the present day that the crime actually never happened – the film places itself into a unique unbiased position from which it follows both the shocking and complex history of the genocide and the Turkish efforts to control the story even in present times. Before our eyes an unrevealed and untold story develops, bringing to light, on the cinema screen, a long-ignored chapter on human cruelty.
It is particularly interesting that a big contemporary production Hollywood film is crossing the path with the history of genocide and the entire network of international repressive efforts to conceal it. This is how INTENT TO DESTROY provides a completely new angle of viewing both the last days of the Ottoman Empire and the history of enormous-scale brutal killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1923, along with all the consequences that follow that event until present days.
During the last decade, Beldocs Festival has become the most loved spring documentary film festival, which gathers the best works of contemporary documentary filmmaking. The most important contemporary documentary films have had its premiere precisely at Beldocs. In this year, again, a documentary film market will be organised, for the second time supported by the European Union through the Programme: Creative Europe, sub-programme Media.
This year, as well, Beldocs is continuing to develop and educate its audience through a quality and premiere programme, offering, in addition to domestic, an international selection, as well as numerous accompanying programmes of events, among which Feel Good Movies and Biographical Documentaries proved to be the most loved. This year, in addition to Sava Centre, Beldocs will be held at Dom Sindikata, Kinoteka’s film theatres at Kosovska and Uzun Mirkova Street, the cinema Fontana and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
In this year, a #europeanfilmchallenge prize competition has been launched, in which the documentary film audience compete for valuable prizes – full paid trip to an A category film festival. After Berlinale, the next round is a trip to Cannes and the second round started on 12 February. The rules are the following: a competitor should see 10 European documentary films on any of possible platforms (VoD, SVoD, cinema, festival, television, etc.), name the film and the platform, place a photograph as a proof and hash tag #europeanfilmchallenge. After certain period of time, the competition organiser will select a winner, who will receive an attractive prize.
This year’s 11 Beldocs Festival takes place from 7 to 14 May.