In case you've been living under a rock you probably already know that The Daily Show's Jon Stewart finally made his directorial and screenwriting debut with Rosewater, a feature film based on the New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came For Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival by BBC journalist Maziar Bahari. The good news is that Tom Ortenberg, the CEO of Open Road Films, announced today that Open Road acquired the film's U.S. distribution.
“This is an exciting, prestigious project and we could not be happier to partner with Jon Stewart, [producers] Scott Rudin, Gigi Pritzker and the rest of the OddLot [Entertainment] team,” says Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films. “We look forward to a successful release of this compelling film.”
According to the official synopsis, "Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Maziar Bahari [played by Gael García Bernal], a 42-year-old broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship living in London. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who was the prime challenger to controversial incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Moussavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed on election day, Bahari endured great personal risk by submitting camera footage of the unfolding street riots to the BBC. Bahari was soon arrested by Revolutionary Guard police, led by a man identifying himself only as 'Rosewater,' who proceeded to torture and interrogate the journalist over the next 118 days."
In late 2009 Bahari's wife started an international campaign from London to get her husband released, with Western media outlets picking the story up — including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Bahari was eventually released by Iranian authorities with a $300,000 bail, making him promise to be a spy for the government.
If his key part in transforming The Daily Show into the political (and satirical) powerhouse it is today is any indication of how Stewart will approach the big screen, Rosewater seems like the perfect segue into filmmaking. He not only reported on the events nightly as they were happening, he also had Bahari as a guest on the show after his release to talk about his experience.
Open Road is planning on releasing the film in Fall 2014 and will be showing it to select buyers during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.