Los Angeles-based physician and producer Eric Esrailian, who recently received a medal from Pope Francis for his philanthropic activity around awareness of the Armenian Genocide, is developing a TV series entitled “Ceasefire” about the Northern Ireland peace process.
Oscar-winning Irish writer-director Terry George (“In the Name of the Father”) is attached to direct.
“Ceasefire” is to depict the dynamics and diplomacy that facilitated the historic Good Friday peace agreement of April 1998, which helped transform Northern Ireland after decades of bitter conflict, in hopes that it can help similar political situations.
“You look at the events around the world and you say: ‘Where has there been a successful brokering of peace between two hostile opposing forces?'” Esrailian said, citing other political flashpoints such as the Israel–Palestine conflict and the civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
“If you read more about the ceasefire between Loyalists and republicans in Northern Ireland you see how the tension goes back literally hundreds of years,” he added.
“You can’t find two groups of people more bitterly opposed to one another, yet a ceasefire was successfully accomplished,” Esrailian noted. “I think that’s a fascinating subject matter; it’s relevant and timely.”
Esrailian also underlined that George — who has depicted “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland in early work like “Some Mother’s Son” and “The Boxer” — has a great grasp of the series’ subject matter and of the U.S. involvement in brokering the peace treaty. The “Ceasefire” series is being shopped around and “there is a lot of interest,” he said.
George previously directed Armenian genocide drama “The Promise,” which was bankrolled by late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, and starred Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. In 2017, prior to its U.S. release, the movie screened at the Vatican Cinematheque in a clear sign of Catholic Church support.
More recently, Esrailian was among the producers of the Discovery Plus doc “Francesco,” directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, in which the pope talks candidly about hot button issues such as same-sex couples, women’s rights and sexual abuse in the church. “Francesco” also features footage of Francis’ 2016 visit to Armenia, during which he used the term “genocide” to describe the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, sparking an angry reaction by the Turkish government, which strongly denies that a genocide occurred.
“For nearly 100 years the Turkish government influenced storytelling in the United States by suppressing the story and pressuring the U.S. State Department,” Esrailian noted.
But in 2019, the U.S. recognized the Armenian genocide through two congressional resolutions passed by both houses of Congress.
“I’m someone who loves working in storytelling for social impact,” said Esrailian, who on Oct. 25 received the Benemerenti medal from Pope Francis for exceptional service to the Roman Catholic Church, becoming the first Armenian to receive this honor.