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TIFF: Jon Stewart on 'Rosewater' and his 'Nice job, Spielberg' moment

For Jon Stewart, last night’s screening of his directorial debut, Rosewater, was a glorious homecoming of sorts. After all, he filmed Death to Smoochy in Toronto. But last night’s standing-room-only showing at the Toronto Film Festival was a true celebration, and before the screening, Stewart joked that Canada’s earnest warm reception felt like sarcasm to a cynical New Yorker like himself. Afterwards, the audience responded with a standing ovation, as much for the real Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned and accused of being a spy by Iranian authorities, as the cast and their first-time director.

The Daily Show host took three months off from his day job last summer to direct Bahari’s story, which had strangely pulled Stewart into its orbit because the Iranians used footage of Bahari’s appearance on The Daily Show as serious evidence of his espionage activities. Of course, the Iranians now also accuse Stewart of being a “CIA Zionist spy,” adding another surreal layer to the ridiculousness. The movie, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Bahari and Danish actor Kim Bodnia as his impatient Iranian interrogator, might seem like an unlikely debut for a comedian, but anyone who knows Stewart’s passion for politics, media, and how the two often mix to create a theater for the absurd, will recognize his fingerprints on the cinematic adaptation of Bahari’s memoir.

Hours after the Toronto debut, Stewart spoke to EW about his unlikely route to directing a film in Jordan and the things he would do over again if he could. (Hint: not much.) READ FULL STORY

Watch the first trailer for Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater'

Last summer, Jon Stewart left his post on The Daily Show to shoot his debut film, Rosewater. Now, Stewart and Open World Films are giving viewers a look at his take on journalist Maziar Bahari’s memoir Then They Came for Me with the film’s first trailer.

In the trailer, the London-based Bahari, played by Gael García Bernal, leaves his pregnant fiancée to cover the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Bahari is then captured and tortured for 118 days, believed to be a spy by his interrogator. The film’s name comes from Bahari’s statement that the only distinctive feature of his captor, who kept him blindfolded, was that he smelled of rosewater. In an ironic twist, Bahari’s real-life interview on Stewart’s show was used as evidence by his captors of Bahari’s guilt, though the film looks to be too serious in tone to play up that plot point.

From the trailer, it seems Stewart’s directorial debut will use real-life news footage to ground the scenes Stewart shot, which were filmed in Jordan. Much of the trailer showcases snippets of Bahari’s introduction into the country and the torture he suffered.

Rosewater opens on Nov. 7, but will first be screened at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival.

Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' gets a November release date

Mark your calendars for Nov. 7 and don’t forget to record The Daily Show: Open Road Films announced Thursday that it would release Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater in select theaters on the awards-friendly November date opposite wide-releases Interstellar and Big Hero 6.

The Iranian political drama starring Gael Garcia Bernal as a BBC journalist who was arrested while covering an election protest in Iran and subsequently imprisoned and tortured over the next 118 days is based on Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy’s best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival. Open Road Films acquired the adaptation at at the Cannes Film Festival and plans to premiere it at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Stewart took a three-month hiatus from hosting The Daily Show to work on the project. He had a longstanding relationship with the imprisoned journalist: Stewart frequently covered Bahari’s imprisonment, and Bahari appeared on the show after he was released from prison.

Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' movie lands U.S. distribution deal

Open Road Films has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, with plans to release the film this fall. The movie tells the true story of BBC journalist Maziar Bahari, who was detained in Iran and accused of spying. For 118 days in 2009, he was interrogated and tortured by Iranian authorities, who released him after overwhelming protests and pleas from the West, including repeated updates on The Daily Show.

Stewart, who took a leave of absence from his Comedy Central show to write and direct the film last summer, based the screenplay on Bahari’s best-selling memoir, Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival. Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries) portrays Bahari in the film, and Shohreh Aghdashloo (24) plays his mother.

Click below to see Bahari’s 2009 appearance on the Daily Show, after he had been released by Iran. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: 'The Giver' gets its Jonas; Plus, 'Veep' star heads to 'Inherent Vice,' more

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• It’s been a while since we’ve heard any news about the film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel The Giver, but things are moving forward. Jeff Bridges has been attached to the project for over a year to play the Giver, and now, Brenton Thwaites has been cast as Jonas, the young boy chosen to be trained by the Giver.  Thwaites has appeared on a number of Australian televisions show and is also portraying the Young Prince in Maleficent. Fans of the book will remember we meet Jonas just as he’s about to turn 12. Thwaites is already in his 20s. Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games) is set to direct the project for The Weinstein Company. Filming will commence in South Africa this fall. [Deadline]

READ FULL STORY

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