Drew Taylor wears a lot of hats: former baseball pitcher, PhD candidate in biomedical engineering, and now, documentary filmmaker. Taylor, along with co-director Larry Weinstein, certainly selected a timely and relevant topic to approach for a first-time documentary: that of Ken Taylor, former Canadian Ambassador to Iran in 1979, and a featured player in a film that received quite a great deal of attention in 2012, (and at this year’s Academy Awards), Argo.
The filmmakers responsible for Our Man in Tehran, Taylor and Weinstein, as well as former neophyte CIA agent Bill Daughtery, who was kept hostage in Iran for an astonishing 444 days, (he was portrayed in Argo as the man shredding papers) provide clarity and enlightenment about the differences between a Hollywood film, and the search for truth. Daughtery mentions that “Exfiltration is one of the most difficult things”, and indeed, the difficulty must be properly acknowledged.
Those involved with Our Man in Tehran do not go as far as to downgrade Argo, being very judicious by calling it an “entertaining film”. Certainly, though, they recognize that there was more to the story than Ken Taylor simply playing the role of innkeeper in the movie, and minimizing the role that the Canadians played, instead, giving much of the credit to the joint efforts of the CIA and Hollywood.
Our Man in Tehran uses a number of eyewitnesses and experts, (including Tony Mendez), to demonstrate that there was much more to the story of the “Canadian Caper” then that which was portrayed in Argo, and that Ken Taylor’s role was certainly more important, (and dangerous), than the little consideration that he was given in the Hollywood film.
Our Man in Tehran seeks to provide a counterargument to the story, with appearances from Ken Taylor, and former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, (completely absent from Argo), and others that seek to restore a measure of truth to a thorny issue, (and certainly present more insight into the region than Argo’s simple storyboards).
One aspect of Our Man in Tehran that was extremely fascinating was the simple fact that Canada gave full documentation to the hostages: “Doing things like issuing false passports…it had never been done in history, and has never been done since. It was a big ethical question. As Tony Mendez says ‘You could never get this done in Congress in the (United) States’”, says Weinstein, pointedly. “I think that had the CIA not been involved, if the States said ‘you know what, Canada, you got this started, you get them out, they could have done it”.
Drew Taylor echoes these sentiments: “Nothing has happened, in equal and opposite magnitude as that takeover of the embassy, and hostage taking of American citizens for 444 days. Nothing has happened to oppose that with equal and opposite force”.