Do y’all remember last summer when Jon Stewart took a break from hosting The Daily Show so that he could make a movie (aka the summer that John Oliver hosted the The Daily Show and you fell in love with John Oliver’s hosting prowess [even though at first you were like “stop making fun of America you limey douche-crumpet!”])? Well fast forward to one year later and you’ve got John Oliver totally crushing the late night comedy news game with Last Week Tonight, and you’ve got an exciting new feature to see coming this November, directed by Jon Stewart. Hitfix is reporting that Jon Stewart’s passion play Rosewater has been given a release date of November 7th, 2014.
An adaptation of BBC journalist’s book “Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival,” the film has been a passion project for Stewart ever since he and his team covered Bahari’s story in 2009. At the time, Bahari was arrested by Revolutionary Guard police led by a man known only as “Rosewater” for submitting camera footage of the street riots that ensued following incumbent Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial election victory over challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. He was tortured and interrogated for the next 118 days and after his ordeal, appeared on “The Daily Show,” one of the outlets that kept the story alive as the story played out.
The premise for this film is one of those stories that seems too ludicrous to be real, which is what makes it so freaking intriguing. The Revolutionary Guard actually showed Maziar Bahari a clip of himself on the Daily Show talking to Jason Jones during the interrogation, claiming it as proof that he was talking to a spy. Mr. Bahari explains further in an interview he did with NPR in 2011.
“On the first day when they arrested me, they told me that they knew I was working for four different intelligence agencies: the CIA, Mossad, MI6 and Newsweek. When I asked them what was their evidence, they said, ‘We don’t have to give you any evidence. We’re going to give it to the courts.’ So my guess … is that, in the absence of any evidence to prove that I was a spy, they were just desperate to find any evidence to prove I was a spy. And I’m sure that someone in the U.S. who filmed The Daily Show — that sketch with Jason Jones and me — and sent it to them and said that this is this guy, who said that Iran and America, they have a lot in common. And he’s talking to a spy.
So I think they put all of this different, circumstantial evidence together, and they said, ‘Well, if Jason Jones looks like a spy, if this guy gives different names to people, then he must be a spy.’ It was so emblematic of this paranoid thinking that they had that it didn’t even allow them to listen to the laugh track on The Daily Show. So they said, ‘Well, why did you talk to this spy? If he says that he’s a spy, if he looks like a spy, then he must be a spy.’ And they were really upset that I said, ‘Iran and the United States had a lot in common.’ “
No wonder The Daily Show was one of the few news outlets to keep the story alive as he was being tortured and interrogated. The staff at The Daily Show, even Jon Stewart himself, must have felt incredibly guilty to have their comedy show being used as justification for the torture of Maziar Bahari. That’s like the Revolutionary Guard using Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck criteria to suss out American sympathizers in their ranks. But it really happened, and now it’s a major motion picture called Rosewater.
Vince’s note: Additionally, Entertainment Weekly has a few pictures from the film that I’m not sure if we’re allowed to use. They don’t show anything except Gael Garcia Bernal looking surprised, but if that’s your bag, go for it.