The fruits of his labor, "Rosewater," a movie about Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari's imprisonment in Iran in 2009, debuted at the Telluride Film Festival last week. It's based on Bahari's memoir, "Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival," about the 118 days he was incarcerated, facing espionage charges after reporting on election protests in the country.
The subject matter's relevance is inescapable, highlighting the constant threat to life and liberty that journalists face in an attempt to bring us the news. While Bahari (who is played by Gael García Bernal) was eventually released, as audiences around the world have seen, this is not always the way a reporter's ordeal will end.
The film is certainly grim but expect Stewart to insert some trademark humor into the darkness, particularly through Bahari's interactions with his interrogator (played by Danish actor Kim Bodnia), from whom the film gets its name. The captured reporter was often blindfolded but could smell the man in the room with him.
As for why Stewart was drawn to the project, just days before Bahari's detention, he was featured in a "Daily Show" segment and the content of his interview was used to question him. Bahari told the Hollywood Reporter, “I don’t think that Jon felt responsible for my arrest, but I think he felt personally invested in the story because his name came up in a dark interrogation room in a prison in Iran." To the viewers in Telluride Stewart said, "Being in television, we assumed this was all about us," according to the L.A. Times.
"Rosewater" marks Stewart's directorial debut and its theatrical release is scheduled for November 7th following a visit to the Toronto International Film Festival.