Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman
Plot: In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans were taken hostage. However, six managed to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador and the CIA was ordered to get them out of the country. With few options, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez devised a daring plan: create a phony Canadian film project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew.
President Jimmy Carter said that "90 per cent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian" and he credited the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor as the main hero.
In order to make the movie feel like the 1970s, Ben Affleck shot it on regular film, cut the frames in half, and blew those images up 200% to increase their graininess.
In reality Tony Mendez was only in Tehran for a day and a half.
In the movie, it was stated that both the British and New Zealand embassies in Tehran turned away the six American diplomats, leaving the Canadians as their only refuge. In fact the British embassy did shelter the six for a few days but it was agreed by everyone that the Canadian embassy would be more secure and suitable, so they moved. A New Zealand official transported them and the British also helped other Americans trapped in the country at the time. Director Ben Affleck acknowledged that he intentionally deviated from the real events in order to quicken the pace and build up the tension.
Ben Affleck was criticized by some viewers for casting himself (a European-American) as Tony Mendez and not a Latino/Hispanic actor. Mendez (who is half-Mexican, half-European) however said he had "no problem" with being portrayed by Affleck, and approved of his performance.
A lot of the confidential material seized in the storming of the American Embassy can now be seen in a museum in Tehran.
Several family members of the real Tony Mendez appear as bus passenger extras after the group is allowed to board the plane.
Comic book artist Jim Lee owns some of the storyboards from the fake film. He stated on Twitter when this film was released that he had no idea they had been used in the mission, he only bought them being a fan of Jack Kirby.
The script originally began by jumping directly into the protests outside the U.S. Embassy. However, Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio did not want the film to simply be a portrayal of irrationally crazy Middle Easterners; the opening credits/prologue, which details how the U.S. helped install the Shah in power and the Shah's subsequent corruption and brutality was created so as to make the anger after the Iranian Revolution understandable while not supporting the grossly illegal and immoral hostage-taking at the embassy.
None of the scenes in the film were actually shot in Iran.
The film has enjoyed great success in bootleg format in Iran where the full facts of the "Canadian Caper" have never been made public
Alan Arkin has admitted that, although his Lester Siegel is a composite character, he based his character essentially on the late movie mogul Jack L. Warner who died shortly before the actual hostage crisis.
Tied with Gigi (1958) for being the shortest-titled Best Picture Academy Award winner, at four letters. The Best Picture winner with the longest title is The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (10 words and 35 letters).
The real Tony Mendez has a cameo. He is seen passing by behind Ben Affleck with his family when Tony is dropped off at the airport to fly to Tehran.
The dramatic flight from the airport with a last-minute chase by the Republican Guard is entirely fictional. In reality, the diplomats showed up for their flight with pre-booked tickets and had no trouble boarding their plane.
When the film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, the film drew criticism that it unfairly minimized the Canadian government's role in the rescues. The director Ben Affleck agreed, and he rewrote the postscript text that states that the CIA's operations complemented the Government of Canada's efforts, and the mission has become an admirable example of international cooperation.
The Iranian chief guard that questions Tony Mendez and his group when they're about to leave Iran is the exact same guard that was arresting a woman at the airport when Tony was entering the country.