One of the most anticipated titles of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival is Rosewater, the first film from savvy late-night talk show host and deadpan comedy expert Jon Stewart. However, even with buzz mounting due to this being Stewart’s first directorial effort, Rosewater is not what many may expect. It’s a political film – but not a comedy – telling the true story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was covering Iran’s elections for Newsweek when authorities imprisoned him for five months. In an intriguing twist, his arrest happened after Bahari appeared in a satirical bit with Jason Jones on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Iranian authorities did not like the joke and threw him in prison, where he was interrogated and tortured.
Stewart opened up to Entertainment Weekly about his hotly awaited debut. He told the publication that he felt out of his league stepping onto a film set:
“It was a pretty seat-of-the-pants operation,” he says of the five-week shoot in Jordan in the summer of 2013 (at that time, future HBO personality John Oliver took his Daily Show desk). “Not to sound too Rumsfeldian, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know going in. I brought five crew members, and the rest was local. Pretty much everybody there did the film in their second language, and some in their third. Except for me.”
Meanwhile, Stewart’s reputation on Comedy Central made it easy to find good advice on the screenplay. He asked J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard to take a look at his script, explaining that he utilized people who came on his program who could be useful for advice.
Rosewater stars Gael García Bernal as Bahari, while Shohreh Aghdashloo leads a terrific international cast. (Appropriately, Jason Jones will also appear as himself.) The film gets its title from the nickname that Bahari gave to his interrogator, since he had a rosewater scent. The drama, which could be an awards contender, looks at the lack of freedom of expression journalists get in some beleaguered parts of the world.
“I don’t ever forget how fortunate I am,” Stewart told EW. “To be able to express displeasure or discomfort with the powers that be is a luxury not afforded to people in other countries. In some ways, this movie is a love letter to being able to express yourself.”
Rosewater premieres in Toronto on Monday, September 8 and opens in theatres on November 7. Check out a new photo from the film below and let us know if you’re excited for it in the comments section.
Source: The Playlist