US satirist Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, is based on the true story of a western journalist imprisoned in Iran — and raises real questions about the nature of torture.
At least, that is the opinion of Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays Canadian-Iranian reporter Maziar Bahari in the first movie by Daily Show host Stewart, released in the US on Friday last week.
Bahari was held in solitary confinement for 118 days after being arrested in Tehran while covering elections there in 2009, accused by then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a Western spy.
“Maziar and I became friends very rapidly,” the actor told AFP, recounting how he prepared for the role using Behari’s memoir from 2011, Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival.
“The systematic and globally accepted practice of solitary confinement amounts to torture,” he added. “It’s something that happens in my own country and in many others in the world ... that’s part of the human crisis which we are living through.”
Even worse, this happens “in the most sophisticated democracies, where human rights are defended,” he said.
“When the United States puts you in a detention center because you are ‘illegally’ in the country, it’s the same thing. They isolate you to the point that they force you to leave voluntarily,” Garcia Bernal said. “It’s a form of torture.”
Bahari’s story made headlines around the world, with then-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton among those who demanded his release.
However, Stewart was inspired to make the film after meeting Bahari personally and hearing his story firsthand.
Garcia Bernal joined a mostly Iranian cast to portray a journalist who, at the time of his imprisonment in Iran, lived in London with his wife and worked for the US magazine Newsweek.
It was the second time the Mexican actor had played a real person, though he says the experience cannot be compared with playing Che Guevara in 2004’s The Motorcycle Diaries by director Walter Salles.
“Che is a mythical figure; everyone has an opinion about him. With Maziar, few people know him, and we were portraying his own portrayal” of the events recounted in the film, he said.
The main difference, he said, was that he faced less pressure playing a Western journalist than the iconic Argentine revolutionary.
The 35-year-old actor added that, as he grows older, he realizes that box office success and awards are not everything. The human side of a role is more important, he said.
“Even more than a story, I need to become friends with the people I’m working with,” he said. “I need to have the challenge of a fraternal experience on a film to believe that it’s worth doing.”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable