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The real-life drama looks at the Knight Ridder journalists who questioned the Bush government’s claims — since debunked — that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. They were the only U.S. reporters working for a mainstream publication to get the story right in the march to war in Iraq in 2003.
Shock and Awe stars James Marsden and Woody Harrelson as Knight Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, respectively. Reiner plays their editor, John Walcott, and Jessica Biel, Tommy Lee Jones and Mila Jovovich also star.
The Zurich audience leapt to its feet with thunderous applause as Reiner and his wife and producing partner, Michele Singer Reiner, took the stage following the final credits along with Strobel, Landay and Walcott.
“I’ve never had an audience like this for one of my films — never!” exclaimed Reiner.
“The extraordinary thing about the film is how accurate it is,” said Walcott. “There are light moments, mostly at Warren’s expense, but that’s accurate, too. What you see is what really happened, and it is a tribute to a great filmmaker.”
Strobel said that in an age when journalism is under attack, he hoped this story could “inspire a younger generation of journalists to go out and do the important work [of investigative journalism] to literally save democracy.”
Reiner’s first standing ovation of the night came before Shock and Awe premiered, when the Oscar-nominated director was presented with the Zurich fest’s Golden Eye Award for his life’s work.
“When you look at Rob Reiner’s filmography, what impressed me most is his tremendous range,” said festival co-head Karl Spoerri in his tribute. “Only a very few directors have managed to make classics across so many diverse genres. The finest thrillers, like Misery; courtroom drama with A Few Good Men; the mother of all romantic comedies with When Harry Met Sally…; the world’s greatest coming-of-age story, Stand By Me. He invented the mockumentary with This Is Spinal Tap; he reinvented the buddy dramedy with The Bucket List; as well as continuing to make serious dramas like Ghosts of Mississippi or political dramas like LBJ.”
In addition to Shock and Awe, Zurich is screening a selection of Reiner’s work throughout the festival, which runs through Oct. 8.
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