Open Road Films announced today that it has acquired U.S. distribution to Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, the feature film based on the New York Times best-selling memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Familys Story of Love, Captivity and Survival,” written by BBC journalist Maziar Bahari. The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films.
A true story, the film marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host and anchor Jon Stewart, and stars Gael Garcia Bernal, leading an international cast. Rosewater is produced by Scott Rudin, Stewart, and Gigi Pritzker, with Lila Yacoub and Eli Bush serving as executive producers.
Rosewater was financed by OddLot Entertainment. Open Road Films plans to release the film in Fall 2014. Sierra/Affinity, which is overseeing international sales of the project, will be showing the film to select buyers during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
“This is an exciting, prestigious project and we could not be happier to partner with Jon Stewart, Scott Rudin, Gigi Pritzker and the rest of the OddLot team,” said Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films. “We look forward to a successful release of this compelling film.”
“We are incredibly proud of this film and we are looking forward to working with Tom Ortenberg and his team at Open Road Films on this wonderful project,” Pritzker said.
Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, 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 October 2009, with Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign from London to have her husband freed, and Western media outlets including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” continuing to keep the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.