Mid-South family affected by new film ‘The Promise’

Kish Sr.'s grandfather and his brothers, who were arrested and killed. (Source: Kish family)
Kish Sr.'s grandfather and his brothers, who were arrested and killed. (Source: Kish family)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There's a $100 million movie that was recently released in Hollywood that's creating early Oscar buzz. Its focus also directly affects people in Memphis and around the Mid-South.

The movie, "The Promise," takes place during World War I as the Ottoman Empire crumbles into chaos and the genocide of Armenians begins in the country now known as Turkey.

Some Memphians had family members killed during that dark time in world history.

"My father was 8 years old and my uncle was 5 years old when they survived that," Sarkis Kish Sr. said.

Kish Sr., 80, and his son, Sarkis Jr., both talked about family members who died during the Armenian genocide.

"My grandfather and four of his brothers were all arrested and killed by the Turks," Kish Sr. said.

"I remember my great-aunt had burns on her legs," Sarkis Jr. said. "Her relative was shot and she fell off his shoulders into a fire. Her legs burn but she did survive and I remember those burns growing up."

The movie, which stars Christian Bale, is a love story inspired by true events of the Armenian genocide. The genocide killed 1.5 million Armenians through executions, starvation, exhaustion, and epidemics in concentration camps. 

"My wife, Jenny and I, at the end of the movie we looked at each other, we both had tears in our eyes," Kish Sr. said.

Both father and son say they're blessed to be Americans without this kind of worry, but they hope the movie educates others so history doesn't repeat itself.

"It shows a lot of pain and suffering, but it's not brutal. It's a good history lesson. The idea is to show it to classrooms down the road to educate," Sarkis Jr. said.  

It's a big budget movie educating people on a little-known piece of world history that directly impacted families in Memphis.

"The Promise" is now out in theaters. Check your local theater listings to find out when it is playing.

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