Like the recent “Architects of Denial,” the documentary “Intent to Destroy” is another strong look at how an estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians were murdered between 1915 and 1918 by the Ottoman Empire (which became the modern Republic of Turkey), and why, a century later, the Turkish government still does not formally accept the facts of this heinous massacre nor the use of the word “genocide.”
Director Joe Berlinger uniquely explores this complex, disturbing issue by embedding with the production of “The Promise,” Terry George’s sweeping romantic drama set against the events of the Armenian genocide. Berlinger then uses scenes, off-camera bits and on-set chats (with director George, producer Mike Medavoy and crew members) from that late-2015 shoot to help create a highly dimensional survey of what Armenians often call “The Great Crime.” (“The Promise,” which starred Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, opened in April to mixed reviews and disappointing grosses.)
The documentary, divided into three chapters (“Death,” “Denial,” “Depiction”), also features a wealth of archival footage and photos, plus interviews with actor-writer Eric Bogosian, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, director Atom Egoyan (“Ararat”), and an array of authors and professors, all of which adds effective insight into the genocide, its longtime cultural and geopolitical ramifications, and America’s thorny place in the matter. It’s a masterful effort.
‘Intent to Destroy’
Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Playing: Pacific Glendale 18; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena