Political thrillers on
film have always been subject to controversy and most directors, actors or
screenwriters involved in the making would welcome such controversy and debate
as a blessing. This film genre certainly reached its pinnacle in the mid 70’s
with Alan J. Pakula’s All the
President’s Men and prior to that Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor
both of which
announced the end of the Nixon era of political conspiracies and denounced the
undemocratic behavior in some spheres of power in
Breaking political taboo: George Clooney took position on the Darfur
genocide and Sean Penn greeted Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji in
©imdb.com & SF Chronicle
Cyrus Nowrasteh was born in
Nowrasteh wrote and directed the Paramount/Showtime production The Day Reagan Was Shot in 2001 (TV) which starred Richard Dreyfuss. Produced by Oliver Stone, The Day Reagan Was Shot received rave reviews and a number of awards including the Pen USA West Literary Award for Best Teleplay 2001-2002.
Some of his other writing credits include Showtime's 10,000 Black Men Named George (2002) (TV)(a dramatization of Black activist A. Philip Randolph's struggles in leading the Pullman Strike), the independent 1996 Sundance hit, 'The Interview', _"Nikita" (1997)_ , the pilot for the hit USA Network series, 'La Femme Nikita', and the adaptation of Alan Dershowitz's novel, The Advocate's Devil (1997) (TV) for ABC. Nowrasteh has also received numerous credits as a writer/producer on such television series as The Equalizer, and D.E.A. As a screenwriter, he is writing
Known for Political and action thrillers: Some screen Credits of
Cyrus Nowrasteh ©imdb.com
According to US magazine Variety and also confirmed by a recent interview given to Persian Heritage Magazine Oliver Stone and Paramount Pictures hired Nowrasteh in developing Jawbreaker, which will focus on America's response to the terrorist attacks with the invasion of Afghanistan and hunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. The script is based in part on a memoir of the same name by Gary Bernsten, the CIA's pointman during the invasion, who coordinated the efforts of the CIA and Special Operations Forces to end Taliban rule.
Stone called it "the least political film I've made." And he insisted his objective with "Jawbreaker" similarly would be to "create compelling drama, not a polemic."
It is not the first collaboration of Oliver Stone with an American of Iranian heritage. Azita Zendel a native of Iran was Stone’s assistent for years on such films as JFK, Heaven and Earth, Nixon and Natural Born Killers. And Stone also produced Nowrasteh’s other political drama The Day Reagan Was Shot Starring Richard Crenna and Richard Dreyfuss.
In development by Nowrasteh the screen adaptation of Fereidoune Sahebjam’s
The Stoning of Soraya M based on a true Story ©imdb.com & amazon.com
Cyrus Nowrasteh’s other challenging script also currently in development will be based on a book by Iranian Journalist Fereidoune Sahebjam : The Stoning of Soraya M, a True Story which was initially a bestseller in France before becoming an internationally acknowledged as a chilling testimony of an innocent woman stoned to death for adultery in Islamic Iran. Below is the summary :
Soraya M.'s husband, Ghorban-Ali, couldn't afford to marry another woman. Rather than returning Soraya's dowry, as custom required before taking a second wife, he plotted with four friends and a counterfeit mullah to dispose of her. Together, they accused Soraya of adultery. Her only crime was cooking for a friend's widowed husband. Exhausted by a lifetime of abuse and hardship, Soraya said nothing, and the makeshift tribunal took her silence as a confession of guilt. They sentenced her to death by stoning: a punishment prohibited by Islam but widely practiced. Day by day--sometimes minute by minute--Sahebjam deftly recounts these horrendous events, tracing Soraya's life with searing immediacy, from her arranged marriage and the births of her children to her husband's increasing cruelty and her horrifying execution, where, by tradition, her father, husband, and sons hurled the first stones.
According to Nowrasteh he hopes to achieve a film in the lines of Alan Parker’s Midnight Express. He hopes to finance this project independently with Iranian investors so as to remain true to the story beyond studio control.
If needed Cyrus Nowrasteh’s prolific work proves once again the rising interest of Hollywood in Iranian talents in the Diaspora.
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About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant.
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