As an American-Iranian who lived through this day, in person, some thirty six years ago, in history, Our Man in Tehran (documentary, First Run Features release) filled in many gaps, both in my foggy childhood memory and the pages of history.
The documentary by Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein examines the intense, true story of six American officials who snuck out of the U.S. embassy, in Tehran, during the November 4, 1979 takeover by Iranian students.
In Our Man in Tehran documentary, Filmmakers Taylor & Weinstein have manage to draw first-person accounts from major players involved in this super-secret rescue mission, giving us a granular, fresh pair of eyes to how it all unfolded.
Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor (nicknamed the Canadian Caper) and his wife, along with CIA agent Tony Mendez, veteran TV journalist Joe Schlesinger, Canadian diplomats John and Zena Sheardown, and many more give on-camera testimonies by offering extra information about the plot and what went un behind the scenes of this outlandish yet successful plot.
From that famous “toast to the Shah” by then president Jimmy Carter, on New Year’s Eve 1977, in Tehran, to the return of exiled Atyatollah Khomeini to Iran, and the dawning of a brand new Islamic government are all covered. Tensions flared between the U.S. and the new Iranian regime when the fallen Shah was given permission to enter the States and seek treatment for cancer. Iranians who suspected this move as a CIA plot to reinstate the ex monarch moved in on the U.S. embassy and all its personnel.
Why the suspicion? Quick history reminder: CIA’s first operation outside U.S. soil was “Operation Boot,” the 1953 coup d’état in Iran which overthrow prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh who cut western hands off Iranian oil, by nationalizing it, and reinstated the young Mohmmad Reza Pahlavi back to power as the King.
Back to this revealing, engaging documentary. Our Man in Tehran is a stand alone, stand-out piece of documentary that sheds a bigger light, mainly from the Canadian side and their heroic efforts to bring home citizens of their neighboring country.
Film geeks and fans of Hollywood magic will appreciate the wink-and-nod technique of the filmmakers left short pre-roll clips of the slate, camera and lighting set ups, reminding us of the clever collaboration between Hollywood and diplomats, and how the power of movies and the allure of filmmaking saved six American lives.
Our Man in Tehran is a must-see, highly entertaining, informative recount of history. If you loved Argo, you will love this documentary as well, if not more.
See the film as it open at Cinema Village, on May 15, in NYC.
CLICK HERE for the film’s trailer.