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You can add New Zealand to the list of countries annoyed with Argo, Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning film about the rescue of six hostages in Iran during the hostage crisis. The country is only mentioned in a single line in the film by Bryan Cranston’s character, but it’s enough to make some New Zealanders a little uncomfortable.
“The six of them went out a back exit,” Jack O’Donnell (Cranston) tells Tony Mendez (Affleck). “Brits turned them away. Kiwis turned them away. Canadians took them in.”
But as The Associated Press notes, that’s not true. In fact, both British and New Zealand officials in Iran did shelter the six hostages briefly before they moved to Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor’s home.
“It's touched a really raw nerve,” Steve Matthewman, a sociology professor at the University of Auckland, told the AP. “We do seem in New Zealand to be oversensitive to how the rest of the world perceives us.” The country’s Parliament even noted that Affleck “saw fit to mislead the world about what actually happened.”
“It's a diabolical misrepresentation of the acts of courage and bravery, done at significant risk to themselves, by New Zealand diplomats,” Winston Peters, a member of Parliament added.
While Affleck didn’t comment, he has said in the past that he had nothing but respect for the British and New Zealanders and never meant to offend. “I think that it's tricky,” he once explained. “You walk a fine line. You are doing a historical movie and naturally you have to make some creative choices about how you are going to condense this into a three-act structure.”
It’s ironic that the film has earned such a reaction in New Zealand, since British officials haven’t complained. In fact, Affleck’s film won a BAFTA award. The film has also been a hit with New Zealand audiences, grossing over $1 million there.
“New Zealand, I think, sees itself as a country that always wants to lend a hand to help people,” Prime Minister John Key recently told reporters, the AP notes. “But in the end, this is Hollywood, and they do make movies. And a bit like when they transfer a book to a movie, often it's a little bit different. So, look, I think we've made our point and we should probably move on.”
The film is still being slammed in Iran, with the country recently announcing that it wants to sue Hollywood for making the film. Canada has also been critical, but that never stopped it from winning Best Picture at the Oscars last month.