NYTimes - Review: 'Intent to Destroy' Shows That the Armenian Past Is Not Over

Joe Berlinger, the director, uses old footage of survivors and insights from historians to provide an overview of the crimes. He also embeds himself with the cast and crew of “The Promise,” a recent fictional film set around 1915 that explores the fighting and mass killings. Mr. Berlinger’s plan is smart as well as symbolic — evidence shows that the Turkish government has often pressured studios into shelving movies about the genocide.

Discussions on the film set are intertwined with historical analysis, and there are explorations of crowd psychology, revisionism and German cooperation with the Ottoman Turks; it’s no stretch to see how the massacre of Armenians helped lay groundwork for the Holocaust.

At its core, “Intent to Destroy” is a call to remember the victims, both for their sake and for our own. “If you want to understand Yugoslavia, if you want to understand Rwanda, if you want to understand any other mass atrocity [that] is happening today, you should really look into the Armenian genocide,” one scholar says near the end of the documentary. “History is not in the past.” 


Slant - Interview: Joe Berlinger Talks Career and Intent to Destroy

Elise Nakhnikan: “I appreciate Intent to Destroy because its main focus isn’t the facts of the genocide. You establish those, for viewers who don’t know about it, but then you move on to your real subject, which is the campaign of denial that’s suppressed those facts over the decades. What made you choose that angle?”

Joe Berlinger: “There are other films out there that have covered the genocide itself, but for me what’s most interesting is the mechanism of denial, the aftermath of denial—and American complicity in that denial. Everyone thinks that Hollywood is just this liberal environment where people can tell whatever story they want, but the fact is that as early as 1935 Irving Thalberg was being shut down [when he tried to make a film of the book The Forty Days of Musa Dagh]. It’s basically taboo in Hollywood to tell this story, because whenever a project is mounted, the Turkish government complains to the state department and the state department twists the arm of the Hollywood studio to drop the project. …

There are parallels to the times we’re living in today. For Turkey, to have mounted this century-long campaign of obfuscation to the point where, at one point, helping the Armenians was America’s greatest moment of generosity, the Near East Relief effort was the largest relief effort mounted up until that point, and there were 146 articles in the New York Times—it was a well-known story—yet today most Americans have no idea that the genocide happened. I think stories like that, that are swept under the rug, are a parable for much larger issues, particularly in these perilous times, where alternative facts and fake news are bandied about, where Trump just bombards you with an alternative version of reality, until people just get so tired they tune out or they accept the other version of reality.”


HuffPost: 'Storyteller for Justice: Joe Berlinger On Documenting 25 Years of True Crime'

"With 14 true crime films and TV series under his belt over the past quarter century (and three in the pipeline for 2018), Berlinger has played a formative role in the evolution of the genre. “There has been an explosion of interest in nonfiction in general over the last decade,” he observes, attributing this surge in popularity to the advent of digital streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, as well as to Hollywood’s ongoing shift away from independent feature films in favor of comic book blockbusters. “Documentary has stepped into the void as kind of the true indie feature.”

"Fans of film and TV have come to recognize Berlinger’s stock-in-trade: a socially conscious approach to advocacy that is also cinematically groundbreaking. It’s won him dozens of awards and nominations, including a Best Documentary Academy Award nomination, multiple Emmy awards and nominations, prizes at the world’s top film festivals, and most recently, a 2017 International Documentary Association nomination for his latest feature documentary, “Intent to Destroy.”


Joe Berlinger To Receive Critics Choice Impact Award

Joe Berlinger has been selected to receive the 2017 Critics Choice Impact Award. The Impact Award honors acclaimed filmmakers who have made a palpable impact throughout their career, both in their industry and the world. Berlinger will receive the award at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards ceremony on November 2nd, 2017. 


Intent To Destroy Wins Best Documentary at DOC LA

"Joe Berlinger’s documentary about the Armenian genocide Intent To Destroy won the top Best Documentary Film Award at 2017 DOC LA. The film-in-film produced by Berlinger, Chip Rosenbloom and Eric Esrailian depicts the century of sophisticated denial campaigns by the Turkish government that perpetrated the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey, and features Atom Egoyan, Christian Bale, Mike Medavoy, Eric Bogosian, Serj Tankian, Angela Sarafian, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and the US ambassador John Marshall Evans."


Intent To Destroy Receives IDA Pare Lorentz Award Special Mention

Joe Berlinger's film Intent To Destroy: Death, Denial & Depiction, has been honored with Special Mention for the International Documentary Association's Pare Lorentz Award.

"The Pare Lorentz  award is given to a film which demonstrates one or more of Lorentz’s central concerns (the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all, and the illumination of pressing social problems) presented as a compelling story by skillful filmmaking. A Pare Lorentz Award film exhibits the highest production values and artistry in its directing, writing, music composition, camera work, editing and research, and exemplifies the spirit and tradition of Pare Lorentz’s work - his passion for people and the land and his quest for a more fruitful coexistence between the two."



"Joe Berlinger’s moving and maddening documentary, INTENT TO DESTROY: DEATH, DENIAL, & DEPICTION, is anything but a gimmick. By cutting those clips and making-of footage with the real-life witnesses, historical footage, and a fine selection of knowledgeable, engaged talking heads, the intensity of the massacre, and the deep psychic wound inflicted on the victims and their descendants, is presented with crystal clarity and devastating impact."


New York Times Features Joe Berlinger's Paradise Lost Trilogy: '10 Great Documentaries Worth Streaming On Amazon Prime Right Now'

"Hot on the heels of the satanic ritual abuse scare that gripped the United States in the 1980s, three 8-year-old boys were mutilated and murdered in Arkansas in 1993: Less than a year later, three black-wearing, Metallica-listening teenagers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the killings. The flaws of the investigation, prosecution and defense were brought to national attention by directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky in their 1996 documentary, “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.” That film, and the sequels that followed in 2000 and 2011, track and even become a part of the investigation, in which leads are pursued; theories are floated; and, eventually, justice is served."


Movie Pilot Interviews Joe Berlinger, "The Director Of Your Next Harrowing Documentary Obsession"

"You've probably never heard of Chillicothe, Ohio, the small suburban town that is the focus of Academy Award-nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger's latest project, Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio, but after feasting on this harrowing series via Spike TV, its name will be cemented in your mind."- Heather Snowden, Movie Pilot

Joe Berlinger: "Our main objective was to find the truth: If you try to inject your own opinion you might miss the story, so you have to be very open to how it unfolds. Initially, what brought us to Chillicothe, Ohio was a serial killer investigation, yet in the end we discovered something totally different.

What appealed to me was that these families believed they were being ignored by the police, and that nobody cared about the plight of their daughters because they were living risky lifestyles — they were taking drugs and in turn resorting to prostitution. They felt that the police were writing these girls off, and not giving them answers. That's what people wanted from us and from the situation; to unearth answers no matter what."



"I was very interested in pushing the documentary form by giving it all the great dramatic qualities of a scripted film. Not in the sense of being untruthful, of course, but the form of the narrative. Trials have this perfect dramatic structure – a beginning, middle, and end. And you have protagonists and antagonist, each side vying for the truth and it comes to a conclusion."

"There’s no-one wrongfully convicted in the Spike series The Forgotten Women Of Ohio. Advocacy for the voiceless includes people who aren’t getting justice. What attracted me to this particular story was the fact that the families of the victims all believed that the police were ignoring these cases because of the lifestyle of these women: they were prostitutes and addicted to drugs. I was sitting on my porch in July of 2015 and I read a Huffington Post article about these women that vanished. It spoke to me as a father of daughters myself. I would want justice pursued if God forbid something were to happen to anyone I knew. Interestingly, this series is the most real-time [project] I’ve ever done. The show is already airing and we’re still filming it; as we speak there’s breaking news that we’re covering."