A California State Senator has weighed in on a controversial decision to ban a billboard advertisement for the film documentary Architects of Denial, which covers the Armenian genocide as told by survivors.
Caruso Affiliated Holdings, which runs the Americana at Brand mall in heavily Armenian Glendale, California, reportedly denied an outdoor billboard ad at the mall because it was “too political,” according to the marketing firm that handles its advertising. The film is executive produced by Dean Cain and Montel Williams for Montel Media Group, directed by Kevin Day, and features commentary from George Clooney and Julian Assange, among others. The film is slated for an October release.
“I thought to myself that Hollywood has long-celebrated thought provoking and hard-edged filmmaking that stimulates conversations about historical event,” Portantino said in a statement posted to his web site. “It seems like labeling art as ‘too political’ was an odd reason to deny the appropriate free expression of a historical documentary. As a former filmmaker and current State Senator, it was important for me to share my concerns and urge reconsideration.”
Portantino’s professional experience includes working in the art department and as property master with the American Playhouse, and he was also a production designer on Grizzly Adams: The Mark of the Bear and an art director on TV’s Unsolved Mysteries.
The Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America has also requested that Caruso reconsider its position. Artin Manoukian, the chairman of the Glendale chapter, said that there has been “no genuine effort from the Americana to reach out to the Armenian-American community.” The organization has requested a meeting with mall officials, but has been ignored. “It’s very offensive, how they’re treating us,” said Manoukian.
Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Montel Williams, also decried the Caruso ban. “’Never Again’ has been the moral code of every civilized country on Earth with respect to genocide in the modern era,” said Franks. “It is unfortunate, and quite frankly bizarre, that Caruso and it’s Americana at Brand shopping mall don’t share that conviction.”
A representative of Caruso Affiliated did not immediately respond to a request for comment.