Joe Berlinger is no stranger to digging into grim and contentious subject matter. Along with the late Bruce Sinofsky, he directed such bracing documentary classics as the Paradise Lost trilogy and Brother’s Keeper. A masterful storyteller and relentless truth-seeker, Berlinger is able to distill the complexities of a given topic down to its essentials, sifting through facts and fabrications to get to the bigger picture. Regardless of the topic, his approach offers the audience a deeper insight into the world of his subjects. With Intent to Destroy, Berlinger and company shine a light on the tendentious topic of the Armenian genocide and its aftermath in the global sphere.
In 2015, Terry George (writer/director of Hotel Rwanda) began production on The Promise, starring Christian Bale, the first mainstream film to portray the Armenian genocide. Berlinger and his crew were invited to embed themselves on set for the making of the film. Berlinger and editor Cy Christiansen use the behind-the-scenes footage to build a framework to explore the oft-overlooked events surrounding the genocide and its ramifications, particularly in the world of politics and art. Employing interviews with former government officials, historians, filmmakers, artists, and educators—as well as genocide deniers— Berlinger and Christiansen weave a complex account of the genocide itself and the near century since of suppression and denial by the Turkish government. (Scott Braid)