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Our Man in Tehran: more entertaining than Argo’s fiction

Ken Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran featured in the film Our Nan in Tehran during 2013 Toronto Film Festival, Toronto September 12, 2013.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Our Man in Tehran
Directed by
Drew Taylor, Larry Weinstein
Genre
Documentary
Classification
PG
Country
Canada
Language
English
Year
2013

Sometimes, the truth can be more entertaining than fiction.

If Argo, last year's winner of the best-picture Oscar, was a high-stakes political thriller about the 1980 exfiltration of six Americans from the clutches of Ayatollah Khomaini's minions, it was also a simplistic and escapist escape movie about the power of Hollywood to defeat evil.

So now, in typically earnest fashion, we Canadians respond with a documentary to reclaim our true story.

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But if the goal is predictable, the result is consistently engaging, as co-directors Larry Weinstein (Inside Hana's Suitcase) and Drew Taylor call on eyewitnesses – then-Prime Minister Joe Clark, Secretary of State for External Affairs Flora MacDonald, the U.S. National Security Adviser Gary Sick, and others – to bring to intimate life the era's jittery nature and the heroism of Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran who was dubbed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter "our man in Tehran" after overseeing the Americans' escape.

On film, more than three decades later, Taylor seems ambivalent about his own triumph: Sure, he outsmarted agents of the Ayatollah, but he knows it's the Iranian common folk who continue to suffer the consequences of that period.

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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