The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $20 million commitment from film producers Eric Esrailian and Anthony Mandekic to the UCLA School of Law to launch an institute that will serve as a national hub for human rights education and advocacy.
Derived from the proceeds of the film The Promise, which is set during the Armenian genocide that began in 1915, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed by the Ottoman government in a mass atrocity driven by ethnic and religious intolerance, the gift will support the establishment of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. When operational, the multidisciplinary institute will expand UCLA Law's course offerings in human rights studies, enhance hands-on programs in human rights law and policy, bring experienced human rights scholars and practitioners to the law school as faculty members and guest speakers, support students through fellowships and scholarships, and host symposia and related events.
"This visionary gift is a giant step toward making UCLA Law the premier center for human rights in Southern California," said UCLA Law dean Jennifer Mnookin. "While the school already has a strong record of human rights scholarship and activity, the Promise Institute will greatly enhance our program and have an impact felt around the world. Dr. Esrailian and the makers of The Promise have shown extraordinary leadership, and we are thrilled that their commitment permits us to launch an institute that promises to grow into a major academic crossroads for human rights."
Esrailian, a faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Mandekic, president and CEO of Tracinda Corporation, co-produced The Promise and are the co-managers of Survival Pictures, which was founded by the late Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian to tell the story of the Armenian genocide. Recently, Survival Pictures began a campaign to teach the public about the genocides and other mass atrocities of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
"The Armenian genocide must never be forgotten, and this need was one reason why we made The Promise," said Esrailian. "However, human rights tragedies — in Syria, the Congo, and South Sudan — and a global refugee crisis continue to unfold today."