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Belfast director Terry George defends new Armenian genocide film The Promise

By Allan Preston

Published 19/09/2016

Controversial subject: Terry George
Controversial subject: Terry George

Oscar-winning Belfast director Terry George has denied his new film based on the Armenian genocide will be one-sided.

The director spoke out after it was revealed the First World War movie was funded entirely by a pro-Armenian group in the United States.

The Promise stars Christian Bale as a journalist swept up in events beginning in 1915 when 1.5 million Armenians were allegedly slaughtered at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

More than a century on the events are fiercely divisive - Turkey denies a genocide ever took place, saying the death toll was highly exaggerated.

Despite support from the US, UK and Israel, more than 30 countries including France and Germany have described what happened as genocide.

Mr George has previously been accused of an anti-British bias in films such as 1996's Some Mother's Son starring Helen Mirren as the mother of a Maze hunger striker.

A former member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the INLA, he was sentenced to six years in jail for arms offences in the 1970s.

Speaking at the Toronto Film Festival, Mr George said despite being funded by Armenian-US group the Kerkorian Institute, The Promise would be balanced.

"Queen Elizabeth funded Shakespeare, and no one calls Richard III a piece of propaganda," he said.

"There's a difference between perception of a story and the veracity of a story. We never wanted to dictate perception, just tell the truth."

Filmed under tight security in Spain, Portugal and Malta, he said he was "staying away from the Middle East and not having any publicity whatsoever, to maintain that low profile".

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