Friday, September 7, 2012

TIFF 2012: Argo parallels current world issues - Toronto Star

TIFF 2012: Argo red carpet

Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star Ben Affleck stops on the red carpet to pose for photographers at the TIFF red carpet for Argo, Sept. 7, 2012.

The evacuation of Canadian diplomats from Iran Friday lent an unusual political significance to the TIFF red carpet at the world premiere of Argo â€" the story of events leading up to the last time the Canadian Embassy in Tehran closed down.

It was January, 1980, during the Iranian revolution. Iranian students still held the 52 Americans taken hostage from the U.S. embassy in November of the previous year (it took 444 days for them to be finally released.)

But six American diplomats managed to evade capture, and were given refuge in the home of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, riskily disguised as Canadian tourists. And as the threat of discovery loomed, Taylor helped devise an extraordinary scheme to get the Americans on a flight out by passing them off as Canuck filmmakers looking to make a low-budget Star Wars-style flick named Argo.

Related:Red carpet recap

Related:Photos from the red carpet

The remaining Canadian embassy staff left almost immediately after.

The thriller, directed by and starring Ben Affleck with London, Ont.’s Victor Garber (Alias) playing Ken Taylor, makes use of real news footage from the time to tell the story of the “exfiltration” of the Americans, known to the history books as the “Canadian Caper.”

Gerard Everest, 36, remember seeing the news of the hostage-taking as a kid and hopes to see the film. That some of the film parallels current issues makes it even more poignant.

Sitting in the rush line for Argo tickets, Malcolm Collings reflects on the way history has repeated itself.

“The pendulum has swung right back again,” he said. “30 or so years ago it was about replacing a monarchy, this time is about replacing a theocracy.”

The coincidental connection (no conspiracy theories here, he says) between the film and the breaking news shows the importance of movies in connecting mainstream audiences to history, added Collings.

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