Tags: Canada | Affleck | Argo | Oscars

Canadians Miffed at Affleck's 'Argo' Snub

Saturday, 23 Feb 2013 12:30 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald


Former Canadian ambassador Kenneth D. Taylor and some of his countrymen are feeling snubbed by the Academy Award-nominated movie “Argo,” saying it's a Canadian story that's been taken over by Americans.

The movie, which tells the story behind the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, has also caused complaints from Iranians, but in Canada, people are saying the true story has been rewritten to exclude their country's help with resolving the crisis, the New York Times reports.

“In the movie, Canada and Ottawa didn’t exist,” Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador to Iran in 1979, and who helped six Americans escape from the embassy in Iran when militants took it over.

Taylor describes “Argo” as a “great film,” but Canadian critics say the film rewrote history at Canada's expense.

“(It) makes Hollywood ad the CIA the sage's heroic savior, while Taylor is demoted to a kindly concierge,” said Maclean's film critic Brian D. Johnson at the film's debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Further, Taylor was not invited to the film festival's premiere, and the Toronto Star reported the diplomat's friends were “shocked and upset by the way he was portrayed.”

“Argo” film director and star Ben Affleck has been trying to make peace, but the film's Academy Award nominations and DVD release have brought the Canadians' complaints out again.

“Canadians should rightly take pride in what they did for the six houseguests,” Affleck wrote in a e-mail to the New York Times. “The diplomats were heroic. That’s indisputable. But that part of the story had already been told. When you’re a filmmaker making a film based on a historical event, it’s your job to find a new way into a story.”

In “Argo,” Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a C.I.A. operative who came up with a scheme for getting the Americans out of the embassy. Mendez transformed the embassy employees and diplomats into a Canadian film crew in Iran to scout locations for a fake science-fiction film, “Argo.”

Affleck pointed out there is another film, “Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper” that is about Taylor, and he and his crew were not interested in remaking that film.

Taylor said the film give the false impression that he and other Canadian diplomats simply followed orders, and by the movie's suggestion that the C.I.A. allowed him and Canada to take all the credit for the operation to keep it secret.

Affleck, though, has interviewed Taylor for material included with the DVD, and has inserted a postscript that shows the rescue as a partnership of both countries.

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