About the Iran Hostage Crisis and Its Roots
From Acclaimed Filmmaker Robert Stone
New Four-Hour Documentary Premieres Monday-Tuesday, November 14-15, 2022, on PBS and PBS.org
(BOSTON, MA) January 18, 2022 -- Today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, PBS and American Experience announced“Taken Hostage,” a new four-hour two-part documentary film about the Iran hostage crisis, when 52 American diplomats, Marines and civilians were taken hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. For the next 444 days, the world watched as the United States received a daily barrage of humiliation, vitriol and hatred from a country most Americans knew little about. The crisis would transform the U.S. and Iran and forever upend the focus and direction of American foreign policy. Premiering Monday-Tuesday, November 14-15, 2022, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app, “Taken Hostage” is a film by Robert Stone. It is his ninth project for American Experience, following the critically-acclaimed, award-winning “Chasing the Moon.”
“Taken Hostage” explores the backstory of how America became mired in the Middle East and the nation’s role in igniting the firestorm that has consumed the most strategically important part of the world for the last 40 years. Part One chronicles America’s quarter-century of unwavering support for its ally, the Shah of Iran, despite his brutal, dictatorial regime and follows the violent Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah in 1979, sending shockwaves around the world. Part Two explores the holding of the hostages at the American embassy in Tehran from November 1979 to January 1981 and details how the crisis degenerated into what is arguably the most consequential foreign policy debacle of the second half of the 20th century. The crisis, which would come to define Jimmy Carter’s presidency, also launched the modern 24-hour news cycle and fueled a newly politicized Christian conservative movement that saw in the crisis a clash of civilizations.
Unfolding like a political thriller, “Taken Hostage” includes an extraordinary treasure trove of never-before-seen archival film footage. Stone and his team were also given unprecedented access to film in the former American Embassy in Tehran. The film is anchored by the personal narratives of several individuals who took part in the events, including hostage Barry Rosen and his wife, Barbara; two pioneering female foreign correspondents who covered the crisis; and Gary Sick, a member of the National Security Council under Carter and his advisor on Iran.
“We’re delighted to be working again with Robert,” said American Experience executive producer Cameo George. “This extraordinary new film explores America’s first encounter with radical Islam, placing the hostage crisis within a larger historical context and helping us to understand the roots of a conflict still being waged today.”
“American Experience’s unwavering support for this film allowed me to gain unprecedented access to heretofore untold storylines and never-before-seen footage,” said filmmaker Robert Stone. “Their faith and commitment to having me pursue a radically new perspective on this profound turning point in history is a testament to our long-standing creative partnership.”
American Experience“Taken Hostage” will stream simultaneously with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. All titles will also be available for streaming with closed captioning in English and Spanish. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
About the Filmmakers
Robert Stone is an Oscar nominee for best feature documentary, a three-time Emmy nominee for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking and the recipient of many other awards and accolades for his work over three decades. He gained considerable recognition for his first film, Radio Bikini (1987), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award. His best-known work includes Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004), which premiered at Sundance and went on to become one of the most highly-acclaimed theatrical documentaries of the year. Oswald’s Ghost (2007) earned Stone his second Emmy nomination for outstanding achievement in non-fiction filmmaking. Earth Days (2009), premiered as the closing night film at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically to wide critical acclaim. Pandora’s Promise (2013), an audience favorite at Sundance, gained worldwide acclaim and prompted considerable controversy within the environmental movement for its advocacy in favor of nuclear energy to fight climate change. Stone’s most recent work, “Chasing the Moon” (2019), is an epic political and social history of the race to the moon, broadcast on American Experience on PBS as a three-part six-hour miniseries to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing. Broadcast in 13 countries on four continents, the film won the duPont-Columbia Award for broadcast journalism and earned Stone his third Emmy nomination for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking. Stone also co-wrote, with Alan Andres, the companion book, Chasing the Moon, published by Random House. “Taken Hostage” (2022) is his ninth film for American Experience.
Cameo George (Executive Producer, American Experience) is an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in documentary, broadcast television and digital content production. George has produced, developed and commissioned innovative programming at CNN, NBC News and ABC News. She was the senior producer of CNN’s groundbreaking series Black in America and Latino in America and executive producer of the eight-hour PBS documentary series 16 FOR '16: THE CONTENDERS, which was also broadcast on the BBC. George joined American Experience from ABC News, where she was head of development for long-form projects, responsible for creating a pipeline of docuseries and feature documentary films across Walt Disney Television platforms, including ABC News, Hulu, National Geographic and Disney+.
About American Experience
For more than 30 years, American Experience has been television’s most-watched history series, bringing to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. American Experience documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, five duPont-Columbia Awards and 19 George Foster Peabody Awards. PBS’s signature history series also creates original digital content that innovates new forms of storytelling to connect our collective past with the present. Cameo George is the series executive producer. American Experience is produced for PBS by GBH Boston. Visit pbs.org/americanexperience and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to learn more.
Major funding for American Experience provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for “Taken Hostage” provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. Additional series funding for American Experience provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the Documentary Investment Group, and public television viewers.
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For further information and photos visit http://www.pbs.org/pressroom