The Mauritanian

The Mauritanian

Photo credit: STXFilms

“It’s a little known fact that Jodie and I were actually classmates at Yale together,” said Amb. Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association, at a virtual screening of The Mauritanian in association with STXFilms followed by a conversation with Jodie Foster – Actress, Director and Producer.  “Not only that, but I had the honor of inviting her to speak in front of a very special audience in Paris when I served as US Ambassador to France. She began her professional career as a child model and learned to read at the age of three and she was accidentally grabbed by a real lion on the set of a movie and lived to tell the story. She’s also fluent in French and even has an asteroid named in her honor. Jodie has had powerful roles in more than 55 movies and four as a director, if I’m not mistaken, and she’s won two Oscars and two Golden Globes for Best Actress in The Accused and Silence of The Lambs in addition to receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award.”

Jodie Foster as defense attorney Nancy Hollander

About the film: “Directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on the NY Times best-selling memoir Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, this is inspiring the true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi (Tahar Rahim) finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the U.S. government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up.” STXFilms

“I read the script and I read the book and just felt like I immediately had to make a movie,” said Foster,  “mostly because of Muhammad whose story really is about an extraordinary exceptional man for him to have gone through 14, 15 years, you know, starting out by being abducted by various governments and then never having been charged with anything; enduring the types of torture that you spoke of – physical, psychological, and sexual. Through all of that fear and terror managing they never were able to break his humanity. And in fact,  through his kind of spiritual being, he is forgiving and affectionate and joyful and happy. That to me was the reason to explore his character, to serve his character, which is what Nancy Hollander my character does. That was really the draw for me. He believed from television and from everything that he knew in the news that the United States was a place that was ruled by the real law, so imagine his disappointments when he realized that he was in Guantanamo and that none of those laws applied to him. That being said, he also is a huge fan of American culture and when he found out the only movie he’s ever seen of mine was Maverick and when he found out the girl from Maverick was going to play Nancy Hollander, he just thought that was like crazy and fun.”

Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster

‘I think what’s successful about the movie is that Kevin Macdonald is a documentarian, is able to look at all sides. And he looks at them all fairly, including the U S government side, including the young guards side, the 22 year old military personnel. You know, they’ve been told these people are all monsters and they’re all out to kill us. You have to be able to look at all sides with a fair lens.” Jodie Foster

The above discussion has been edited for brevity purposes.