New film tells how Canada helped save U.S. diplomats

U.S. and Canadian leaders commemorated their two countries’ close ties and cooperation this week at the premier of a movie about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis in which 52 American diplomats were held captive for more than a year.

The movie, “Argo,” opened in the United States this weekend and its director and star, Ben Affleck, introduced it at a private showing at the Canadian Embassy.

The film is based on the true story of a covert Central Intelligence Agency operation to rescue six Americans who managed to escape when Islamist demonstrators took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and captured most of its diplomats. The six who escaped secretly took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador.

Affleck, who also wrote the screenplay, plays Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration specialist who gets the six American escapees out of the country by having them impersonate a Canadian film crew scouting movie locations in Iran.

“This movie is about cooperation . . . the great things that are possible with diplomacy,” Affleck said at a private cocktail reception at the Canadian Embassy before the film’s screening.

Affleck was addressing several hundred guests at the embassy, including members of Congress, CIA officials and former Tehran embassy hostages, including two of the six portrayed in the film.

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