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TORONTO — Canada is reclaiming Argo.
Kenneth Taylor, the former Canadian ambassador who sheltered six American State Department employees during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis — at great risk to himself and his family — received a standing ovation Thursday night at the Toronto Film Festival following the world premiere of Our Man in Tehran. The documentary details Canada’s heroic role in the real-life saga, versus the more America-centric version that is the focus of Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning movie Argo.
PHOTOS: The Scene at the Toronto Film Festival 2013
“I think the truth is a better story,” said former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, who took the stage with Taylor for a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers and other key players. They all agreed that Affleck had embellished the truth to make his movie more entertaining. (Argo was repeatedly referred to as that “other movie.”)
Our Man in Tehran, directed by Larry Weinstein and former baseball player Drew Taylor (no relation to Ken Taylor), features lengthy interviews with Clark, Taylor, Pat Taylor (Taylor’s wife) and Tony Mendez, the CIA operative played by Affleck in Argo.
After the U.S. government learned that the six were being hidden by the Canadians, it was Mendez who came up with the idea of using a fake movie to free them by stating they were part of a production team scouting for locations. They were able to leave Iran by using fake Canadian passports.
PHOTOS: How the CIA Fooled Hollywood With Fake ‘Argo’ Movie
Several of the State Department employees were also featured in the documentary, which played at Toronto exactly one year after Argo made its world premiere at the same festival, on its way to Academy Award glory. At the time, Clark said Argo diminished Canada’s role, prompting Affleck to go out of his way to commend the Canadian government, including a mention during his Oscar acceptance speech.
Weinstein said the documentary doesn’t necessarily contradict Argo, but paints a much more complete picture. Drew Taylor agreed, saying Argo “left pieces out.”
In Our Man in Tehran, Taylor reveals he thought the idea for the fake movie — a sci-fi epic — was ridiculous, and that it would have been better to pretend it was a movie about the actual Iranian revolution taking place.
“But that’s the CIA and that’s Hollywood,” said Taylor.
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