The CIA’s involvement in Argo is obvious from simply watching the movie – they shot several sequences at Langley, after all. But the extent of the Agency’s support for the film and the strict conditions under which filming at CIA headquarters was allowed have only become clear recently, courtesy of over 200 pages of CIA documents. Emails between Ben Affleck and his paymasters – I mean, collaborators – details of tours of Langley by the cast and crew, as well as internal communications about the script all shed light on this unusually close relationship, and offer insight into Argo‘s bastardisation of the history of the CIA’s involvement in Iran.
I recently wrote three articles based on these documents, looking at the files and the film from different angles.
Documents Reveal What It’s Like to Film at CIA Headquarters – I situate the Argo shoot in the history of filming at CIA headquarters, and how this special access encourages film and TV producers to flatter the CIA, and portray them positively. From Scorpio to the FBI-produced Game of Pawns, this is the most detailed account of the rare privilege the Agency grants to a handful of friendly productions.
Documents reveal CIA support for anti-Iranian propaganda film Argo – This gets into the politics of the film, its treatment of the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup and the 1979 revolution, as well as the hostage crisis and the Canadian government’s role in the exfiltration op.
Documents reveal how Ben Affleck got into the CIA, promising to ‘do the Agency proud’ – In this one I focus on Affleck’s relationship with the CIA, going back 10 years before he made Argo, and some of the most saccharine mutually masturbatory exchanges between Ben and the Agency.
Note: credit where it’s due, this did not come from my FOIA request, it was one Matt put in years ago that the CIA only recently got around to responding to. Though I did put in an identical request four or five years ago that they haven’t responded to yet. FOIAland remains a bizarre, surreal place to work.