A year after the Hollywood thriller Argo began its race to the Oscars while at TIFF, a documentary that reveals the real story behind the Canadian Caper is making its debut at the Toronto festival.
Filmmakers first approached Ken Taylor, Canada's former ambassador to Iran, to make the documentary Our Man in Tehran last fall. The request came after criticism of Oscar-winning Argo's central focus on the efforts of former CIA operative Tony Mendez in the extraction of American diplomats hidden in Taylor's Tehran home during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis — and a diminishing of the Canadian role.
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Directed by Larry Weinstein and Drew Taylor, the new film has its world premiere at TIFF Thursday evening and will be accompanied by an onstage discussion with Ken Taylor.
The doc revisits the tense historical episode through first-person accounts, including appearances by Taylor, then-Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, former secretary of state Flora MacDonald and veteran CBC journalist Joe Schlesinger.
"I thought I was really a footnote to the whole operation," Taylor told CBC News Thursday morning.
"I understood though, through Ottawa — which was really key to the organization, the coordination and the link with Washington — that this this was pretty vital, pretty crucial, that a number of lives were at risk."
Responding instantly to protect his six American "houseguests" from danger and making possible their eventual extraction "was a Canadian instinct," he added.
"It's a reflection that we'll go to the limit for the United States in a situation like that."
In the attached video, Taylor talks to CBC's Heather Hiscox about Our Man in Tehran, shares details about the incident and talks about diplomacy in today's world.
The Toronto International Film Festival continues through Sunday.