tv Amanpour Company PBS February 5, 2019 12:00am-1:01am PST
hello, everyone. welcome to amanpour and company. here's what's coming up. months after the brutal murder of the sawed journalist jamal khashoggi, his death is still shaking up american foreign policy. i speak to al qaeda expert and khashoggi friend lawrence wright. and to the former fbi agent, ali sue fan. a busy year for actor ethernet hawk who went behind the camera as writer and director of the country music biofilm "blade." >> a child sues his parents for bringing him into this world. the story behind the movie "capernum."
uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman's 60-year culinary career began, she didn't know the recipes from her cookbook would make their way to her river cruise line, uniworld. bea's locally inspired cuisine is served while cruising through europe, asia, india, and egypt because, according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser. for more information, visit uniworld.com >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, seton melvin, judy and josh weston, the jpb foundation, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> welcome to the program,
everyone. i i'm christiane amanpour in london. a team of united nations experts has now arrived in turkey to investigate the brutal murder of saudi journalist jamal khashoggi on okayed 2nd. they have not given him permission to enter or speak to authorities. meanwhile the trial of 11 men accused of his murder is under way in riyadh. the crown prince mohammed bin salman had nothing to do with the assassination, they say. democratic senators publish resolution to end the u.s. involvement in saudi arabia's civil war in yemen. motivated by the devastating humanitarian consequences of the fighting there as well as lingering anger with the saudi regime over the khashoggi killing. 100 days after jamal's murder, i
spoke with two men who knew him well. journalist lawrence wright was khashoggi's close friend. his book the looming tower is widely considered the definitive account of events leading up to the 9/11 attack. ali sue fan. when i spoke to them, they were both attending a bipartisan event in congress which marked the 100 days since jamal's murder and dismemberment. welcome to the program. given the unbelievable murder, the dismemberment, the savage treatment of a journalist working for an american newspaper by an allied government, what did you make of
the focus of secretary pompeo's speech in cairo today? larry, you were a friend of jamal's. you first. >> when i was thinking when i was reading through pompeo's speech is how much faith jamal had in american policy, much more than i do sometimes. he believed that america needed to have a strong presence in the middle east, and yet our presence has been so waivering. i don't think we've had a more votel and uncertain policy in the region than we do right now. and i don't think the secretary's speech has changed information. >> yali you've been at the hear of all this inside the fbi and outside doing your security work. what do you make of secretary pompeo kind of departing with traditional american speech in foreign lands, never once mentioning human rights, never once mentioning political pluralism and to school, only
mentioning democracy once, and that in religious to, quote, iraq's thriving democracy? >> it's a sad day. and, frankly, i agree with one thing the secretary said today when america retreats. that's very true. we are basically witnessing when america tweets, also chaos follows. that's unfortunate what we see today in the middle east with the president's tweet about syria that resulted with secretary mattis leaving. i think there was a lot of confusion in the region. this is why secretary pompeo went to the middle east to tell our allies and friends and partners who are anxious about our syria policy that the president of the united states does not speak for the united states, but he speaks for the president of the united states. amid this confusion for our strategy and our policy in the middle east, we see five other
countries that secretary pompeo is visiting do not have ambassadors. two years later of the trump administration and still, we don't have ambassadors in the supported countries. we have 40 vacant ambassadorships around the world. the number two most senior position in the state department that oversees the mideast and the near east are still vacant and we don't have assistant secretaries for these positions. i think with all due respect to secretary pompeo before we start pointing the finger at president obama, we need to look at our own policy in the mideast. a policy that's still supporting the atrocity in yemen, the u.n. and u.n. secretary-general declared yemen to be the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today. support of authoritarian regimes. he didn't mention anything about today is the 100-day anniversary of jamal khashoggi and not one word was mentioned about the
murder of jamal khashoggi. a journalist was dismembered and it seems that the secretary of state and the president are not willing to take accountability for what happened. i think we are a force of good, as the secretary said, but i think we really need to basically show it with action, not with words. >> let me ask you, larry, what do you expect to be showing with action and maybe some words in this event that is going to happen on capitol hill? what is the actual bigger point to marking this 100 days? >> jamal khashoggi was just one of 53 journalists around the world who was murdered last year. a sharp spike from what has been previously. these are forces of repression that we are seeing around the globe that are trying to create an intimidation of freedom of speech.
jamal was one person who was not afraid to speak. that's what got him killed. what we've done today is we've assembled a bipartisan coalition in both chambers of congress and we are proud of the fact that our lawmakers from both parties have stepped up and raised their voices and also we have journalistic groups that represented human rights activists and a number of friends of jamal's. i was just one of many. almost every reporter who wanted to write seriously ability the middle east had to spend time with jamal at some point in his career. >> you did write a piece in "the new yorker" today about him and your views. one of the lines you write is he, jamal, embodied the qualities of truth and justice that america at its best represents and we will thank him for reminding us. again, secretary pompeo and this administration, have they stepped up to the plate to the
extent required by an american administration that stands for human rights and democracy and the first amendment and free press? what more needs to be said about saudi arabia or about the murder of jamal and the dismemberment. let's not forget what happened to him. >> right. these 53 murders we are referencing, so few of them had anyone held accountable for the murder. jamal is one of many. but if his murder is not held accountable, then who is safe and what other freedoms will be compromised? he's a symbol and a martyr, but let's hold somebody accountable for this murder. >> i want to get back to you on the issue of isis and terrorists and insurgence. the administration seems to kind of say it both ways.
one, that we defeated isis, but the pentagon said yes, it's on the back foot and routed from raqqa and mosul, but it's still there. what do you know about the presence of isis still and i want to play something that the secretary said about that fight. >> you know, the areas of isis control diminished, but isis as a threat still exists. two or three years ago before the syrian war, what became isis, al qaeda and iraq were just jihadis in the western deserts of iraq. but they were able to survive and they were able to create isis later on. the threat of extremism and jihadi extremism is all over the middle east. we see it from yemen, somalia, iraq and syria. this battle is still at the beginning. i'm afraid that al qaeda after
9/11 was not as strong as al qaeda today in its ability to control areas and recruit and rebuild the network. i fear the same will happen with isis. many of the fighters who fought with isis are still alive. some of them went to different locations. some of them are still in the mountains and deserts of iraq and syria. so we should not rest our loral. we need to focus on the battle and keep our eyes on the prize here. unfortunately declaring a victory like this and packing and leaving is just endangering the region and the world and our own future. >> let me ask you, what message do you think this little bit of pompeo's speech sent? it's quite confusing about what the u.s. is doing and why. let's just play it. >> let me be clear. america will not retreat until the terror fight is over.
we will labor tirelessly to defeat isis, al qaeda and others jihadists that threaten our security and yours. president trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from syria. we always do. and now is the time. >> i don't know whether you see and hear a contradiction. we will not give up until it's over, but we are coming home. i'm not sure i understand it. >> absolutely. this is just another indication, christiane, of what's happening with this administration. there is a big confusion about what the pentagon or the cia wants or even the professionals in the state department wants, and what the president tweets about. i think the president wanted the troops to leave syria, fine and dandy, he's the commander in chief, he can order that, but there's a lot of strategic implications for this. this is why the secretary is visiting the middle east to tell people, look, even though we're pulling out, but we're not
really pulling out. this is just going to create more confusion which will lead to less u.s. leadership in the region. today the u.s. is not leading in the middle east. we're not leading in europe. we are not leading in asia. unfortunately we are confusing our enemies and allies and partners and our enemies are all happy. >> larry, the trial of about 11 suspects has started in riyadh, the suspects who were responsible for the murder and dismemberment of jamal khashoggi and potentially a handful could face the death penalty. the state department basically says, or at least a state department official says the united states does not believe the saudi version of khashoggi's killing, has hit the threshold of credibility. what do you think? the state department said that secretary pompeo will very, very robustly demand accountability
when he meets with the royal family in riyadh this week. what do you think the outcome will be and the flavor of those talks? >> i'm not optimistic. i think the administration has shut down itself to be far more accommodating -- let me say to mohammed bin salman. people tend to personify saudi arabia with mohammed bin salman. we don't want to offend the saudis. but the saudis are weakened by this crown prince. he is culpable not just for the murder of jamal khashoggi, but for the war in yemen, for the abduction of the lebanese prime minister, for the shakedown of a businessman and one person tortured and killed. these are actions that are far outside the boundary even before jamal was murdered. we were accommodating this irrational actor.
if we are a true friend of saudi arabia, we have to hold the country accountable and they have to hold the person that made these decisions accountable. >> the saudis deny all of those issues and have taken the responsibility and those are the people who are on trial. of course many people believe thlkd never this could never happen without mbs's direct order. you have been in the room with the terrorist suspects. you were in the room with the saudis who committed 9/11. some of them. some of saudis involved in al qaeda. what should the policy be? the united states has a relationship, a key relationship with saudi arabia, and yet this awful thing happened when many of the other things. what should the policy be at this particular time? >> i think at this particular time, we need to hold the saudi government and those responsible
today in the saudi arabia government accountable for their actions with jamal khashoggi, their factions yemen and so forth. saudi arabia is an important partner and ally to the united states, but they are an important partner to the west and the u.s. if they play a productive role in the region, unfortunately the role they play is not productive in any way, shape, or form. king salman had the opportunity to choose between the stability of saudi arabia and his son. unfortunately he chose his son. a weak saudi arabia does not help our policy in the region. a weak saudi arabia does not help us to contain iran or follow up with peace between the arab and israelis. a weak saudi arabia creates more in the region. the gulf states are divided among each other with the embargo with qatar, for example. we need to lead in the mideast and when we lead, people will follow.
the leadership has to begin by standing up for our values and our principals and our constitutional issues that we believe in and work with our allies on a productive policy in the middle east that can unify the good people, the modern people in the region against the forces of evil and tyranny. unfortunately we cannot do that when saudi arabia and the leader of saudi arabia kind of implicated to be part of the forces of tyranny and evil. >> well, it's not what the secretary of state said. he hoped and this is a big part of his trip and the alignment to push back on obama's engagement with iran. you know they've pulled out of the iran nuclear deal. but this is what he said about getting saudi arabia and others on board to continue pushing back against iran and take advantage iran.
this is what he said. >> we fostered a common understanding with our allies of the need to counteract the iran regime's revolutionary agenda. countries increasingly understand we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them. nations are rallying to confront the regime like never before, egypt, kuwait and others are thwarting efforts to evade sanctions. >> what do you make of that? do you see delaying and setting the table for potentially another military adventure this time against iran? >> it could easily be. but the flaw in this logic that the secretary is laying out is that there is only one country in that region that is the violator of human rights. it's a problem across the region. it always has been. we have to have a standard that we require of all countries, our
enemies and our allies. because we have been hypocritical about it in the past, people don't believe we have those values. that's one of the reasons we want to honor jamal khashoggi. he reminds us of the values that we do enshrine and freedom of expression and freedom of press at the peak of it. you don't find that in either of the countries that the secretary is referencing. >> interestingly and you point out and many of us pointed out that jamal never called himself a dissident. he supported his country, he was a patriot, but he called out when he thought that the civil rights, humanitarians, and all those things were going -- were under dire attack. i guess finally to both of you, briefly, what do you think the lasting impact of his murder will be? will it continue to be held up as a marker beyond which civilized people cannot go and hold nations there including
saudi arabia to account? >> i would hope that would be true, but when jamal came to the united states and began writing for "the washington post," he said i am raising my voice because so many cannot speak. now he cannot speak either. repression is the force that tries to silence voices like his. we would like to think that the murder of jamal khashoggi will embolden other reporters and other writers to speak out more freely, but the truth is, one critical voice has been lost. will it be replaced? that's yet to be shown. >> on the 100th day of his murder, many people in congress from across the aisle, many human rights organizations and journalists getting on capitol hill get amazing support for the event at 5:00 on the hill. i'm telling you, this is only
the beginning. 500 days, 1,000 days. jamal khashoggi became a symbol against injustice. a symbol of what's happening to journalists everywhere around the world. this is a very important fight to take on. freedom of press is extremely important. it's essential for who we are as people. if it goes, all freedoms will follow. this is a battle that so many people in congress and so many people in the u.s. government and so many people in the press and human rights organizations are willing to take. this is not a memorial. we don't even have a body to do a memorial. this is just a remembrance. this is just a remembrance and we'll continue the fight. >> thank you very much for joining us. ale ali thank you for being with us this evening. >> thank you.
>> larry wright is also a keyboard player for a blues band based in austin, texas. it's known as who do, which brings us to another austin-based blues musician named blaze foley, a much loved country artist whose tragic life and death are the subject of an unconventional biographical movie which was written and directed by my next guest, ethan hawke. t he gravitates towards ambitious roles that range from the before sunrise trilogy to "boyhood" where filming took place over the course of 12 years. when i spoke to him, he told me with blaze he challenged himself to reinvent ways moving are made. >> you got this film out. it's focusing on a musician who
hasn't sought or wanted traditional mainstream fame. >> right. he certainly didn't get it. i think part of my idea was i love music movies. i love them, but almost everyone you ever see is about a musician who is wildly famous. it inevitable becomes about the trials of fame. that's what the subject is. every musician i've ever met, most of them, are met with absolute indifference, like most of the actors i've met, like the directors i've met. i thought blaze's story is full of insight into a meaningful artistic life than telling the story of ray charles or johnny cash. >> we're going to play a clip and then i want to talk to you about what he says and what you just alluded to, the meaning of success and what it means to different people.
>> you're going to be a big country star like roger miller? >> huh? >> i don't want to be a star. i want to be a legend. >> what's the difference? >> well, stars burn out because they shine for themselves. i'm amazing. legends last forever. >> he basically said it, a legend lasts forever. it is a pronounced take on the notion of success because it doesn't follow the normal beginning, middle, and end. what made you want to explore that notion? some have said could it be a little self-referential? you have "no" not gone the blockbuster traditional route. >> there's a great tolstoy
quote. he said his brother was the true talent of the family. he just lacked the necessary bad personality defects that one needs to be successful. i don't necessarily buy into that. i think a lot of people in the arts can have an allergy towards the necessary falseness it takes to be out here selling yourself, right? >> you have that allergy? >> look, i'm on tv right now, so i'm aware of the allergy. in some people you can call that a struggle for authenticity or self-sabotage. sometimes it's okay to sell your art. and so it's a razor's edge an intelligent person tries to walk. >> you called success a formaldehyde. me in school in my biology lessons, it preserves organs. it keeps you stagnant.
>> to be alive, you got to change. as soon as people start handing you money and telling you you're important and fabulous for being this thing, you better not grow because maybe you'll screw it up. you often see people in their -- whenever they experience success -- look, i've been watching this since i was little and i want to stay alive. a lot of people who started acting when i did, they lose their way. a lot of it is because if you get too much attention or told you're special and you believe it, for a second you forget that everyone is special, which is very easy to do when you're 23 or 24, 25. but it can throw the whole trajectory of your life off because you got to grow and change. >> and take risks. can i just play a clip from dead poets society? >> even if it's gibberish. >> a sweaty toothed madman. >> good god, man, there's a poet in you after all.
close your eyes. describe what you see. >> i closed my eyes. >> yes. >> and this image is besides me. >> sweaty toothed madman. >> who pounds my brain. >> give him action. make him do something. >> his hands reach out and choke me. >> wonderful. >> and all the time he's mumbling truth, truth like a blanket that you always leaves your feet cold. >> forget them. stay with the blanket. tell me about the blanket. >> you push it, stretch it, it will never be enough, kick at it, beat it, it will never cover any of us. from the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream. >> you lived that but i watch you looking at it intently all these years later. what does it mean to you? what is your breakthrough? >> it was. it was the first day i ever acted.
i had acted before, but i hadn't lost myself in a performance. it's an amazing feeling. people love to make acting about isn't he special, isn't he beautiful and wonderful? you see them on an awards show and it seems like it becomes a celebration of elself. but acting at its best, the flame we're chasing is losing yourself, being in service of a story other than your own story and feeling connection and realizing that your life is not so unique that you share the most intimate feelings with other people. that's profound. i had it with robin. it's not a joke. you asked me about formaldehyde. these things become cute expressions people say on tv and stuff, but it's life and death a lot of times. robin -- >> i can see you getting emotional. i can see your eyes.
we're all shocked that he's not alive anymore. we're all shocked that anthony bourdain is not alive anymore. we're shocked by these larger than life, massive, creative genes geniuses who for whatever reason can't finish the whole road. >> because life is hard, and it's supposed to be hard. everybody wants it not to be hard. they want it to be easy or about making money, something you can grasp. they don't want it to be inner journey is shared, communal inner journey, which is mysterious how that can be true. it's very mysterious. but the truth about, from my experience, about life is so much more mysterious than anybody wants it to be. and that's very hard to let go of. when we see people who have everything we want be so sad, it's very confusing. >> it is, actually, very, very
confusing. and i think you just hit the nail on the head there because to us it looked like they wanted. >> now that we're talking about it, that's why the arts are valuable to me and why one of the things that's happening in our culture -- for me, medicine is incredibly important and politics are incredibly important. they're all part of root systems. and the arts represent our mental health as a culture and thousa the freedom of expression. it's very strange how in our current environment how little i see the arts respected. there's a huge priority put on making money. we talk about it all the time. it's nonstop. if you think that that isn't absorbed by young people, if we prioritize wisdom, spiritual development, taking care of each other, thank you for your
service to our military men and teachers and police officers, if we said thank you to each other all the time, there would be a profound healing that would happen as opposed to prioritizing certain aspects. >> that speaks to first reform. you did this amazing film and it touches on what you just talked about because it's about a priest. there's an extremist quality of it and it's really of any kind tied into what we're seeing in our politics right now. you see conservatism, evangelism. explains whether you saw that connection or coincidence. >> oftentimes in movies we see people of the religious community either -- it's an evil priest or they play a befuddled priest. you rarely are given an opportunity to explore a character who is trying to
understand their faith and willing and intelligent enough to challenge their faith. the brittle break, the supple bend. i was very grateful for the opportunity to play a serious character. he gets put in an extreme situation. he's lost his son, he's counselling another young man. that does not go the way that he wants. and his faith is tested. i think that there's something about the movie that is a scream. it's one i relate to. when you look at your religious community and you don't see leadership. where are we with the environment? where are we with god's green earth? >> that's a central element of the film. >> does the religious community think the people at standing rock don't deserve -- these native american communities calling out for their rights, our earth, that religious
community's going to side with big business? if that were a movie, we all know who's the good guy and bad guy. we don't see leadership. yet most of us don't know what to do. we don't feel educated enough, knowledgeable enough, powerful enough to express ourselves or know what to do. we're worried about our own kids, right? and so it's like this scream that i think the movie is about. it's the priest going -- crying >> you spoke about this to another interviewer by raising martin luther king saying the church needs to be reminded that it's not the master or the servant of the state but the conscience of the state. it will become an irrelevant social club without spiritual authority. >> we get hit with i have a
dream all the time and you hear that and you think there is a reason why martin luther king is famous and why there's a boulevard named after him in every city. it's about my feelings about money. the christian faith was borne out of poverty and borne to take care of the impoverished. jesus christ of nazareth talks about that, not about power over people, not about winning. >> you were raised quite religiously by a single mom. >> my father and my mother are both extremely religious, yes, and my city of father is extremely religious. >> what did it mean you to given the context of the life we're living right now, the political and social environment? you had a strong mother? >> yes. >> a mother who you are very close to? >> yes. >> we're in the middle of the #metoo movement. your former wife, uma thurman
made a lot of headlines talking about alleged what harvey weinstein did to her. she said he really tried to come on hard and was, you know -- let me read it. your former wife, uma thurman told "the new york times" about whauv. he pushed me down, tried to shove himself on me, he tried to suppose himself but he didn't actually put his back into it and forced me. you're like an animal wriggling away like a lizard. this is your former wife. what did you feel when you saw -- did you know that was going on at the time? have you come across this -- >> i would venture to say that every serious man over 40 would probably tell you that almost all my female friends that i've been close enough to, that they would share something like that with me have shared a story like that. >> it's that prevalent? >> i think it's that prevalent.
my high school sweet heart had stories like that, my college sweet heart had stories like that. i was in the theater. i'm a bohemian. and the haulls of dressing room are full of that and every employment place. and i think that's what is happening right now. something has opened up. i think it has, you know, this push this way and a pull that way and it's opened something up. revolutions are always expected and there's a revolution of thought that's happening where men are being held accountable and men are being shamed. i really believe good things are going to come from that. it's hard and painful and painful to talk about. i don't like hearing you read that, you know? nobody likes hearing it, but it's happening all the time. like i said before about the arts being healthy, collective
consciousness, until you shine a light, you can't talk about it or heal it >> you indicated that you still get a sense of anxiety from the so-called freelance nature of this business, a certainly amount of stage fright. i'm really interested about that. why? >> well, i don't -- the answer, i guess, is that i don't think most people are nervous enough. this is one life. there's a lot to be nervous about. a lot to put thought into. and there's something to be said for confidence. confidence is a wonderful thing. it's very fragile for most of us and you need to preserve it and take care of it. you could make a case to be made that anxiety can sharpen our sword. when i was 21 i made by broadway debut. true story. i remember walking on stage, it
was completely dark, sold out house on broadway. i'm not nervous at all. i was completely confident. well, i should have been nervous, you know? and it's taken me 30 years to learn there's a lot to be nervous about and there's nothing to fear in being nervous or whatever. the truth is your friend. it's a thomas martin line that my mother told e, you don't need to protect the truth, you need to live in the truth and it will protect you. that's what makes, you know, i'm nervous on this show about stepping out of my own truth. it's hard to be on these shows >> you haven't though, have you? >> i've been made to feel uncomfortable. >> just now? >> yeah, in more ways than you might be aware of. >> is that okay. >> i'm here for it. that's what i'm here for. it's your job and it's my job too. i'm here to promote my movie and share my art with the world.
it's a luxury tax of sometimes having your words -- you get put in these positions. we're trying to have an authentic conversation, but we can't pretend we don't know there's a lot of people listening, which is different than if it's 2:00 in the morning and we're signature there at the end of the night talking when we cannot be held accountable. we can be free to make mistakes, right? but on your show, i can't make a mistake. so i get nervous. but i'm telling myself that it's okay >> and it is okay and you've been great. ethan hawke, thank you very much. >> his other recent film "first reformed" has been nominated for an oscar. we turn now to a different movie, also oscar nominated for best foreign film. the power to transport us into the most diverse stories and worlds. the movie is called "caper numb"
set in modern day lebanon and it tells a story of a boy named zane, a street kid, a child undocumented and unrecognized by society. the filmmaker was handed you by the sight of children like zion in cities all over the world, underwearing what are the wondering how do they truly live? hundreds of millions of children are displaced from their homes. the movie won a jury prize at the cannes film festival. we spoke to anyway lean lab back can i, news of a nomination was announced >> what's the film about? >> in brief, the film is about a boy who sues his parents for giving him life and for bringing him into this world that was not giving him a chance to survive or any tools to survive. symbolically he doesn't have
papers. he's not been registered, so symbolically he's a nonexistent child. >> he's almost representing not just a forgotten individual, but a lost generation of kids. we have seen in this migration out of syria and the global migration that's happening, what happens to these kids. there's no school, no prospect of a job. >> they don't have the right to anything, unfortunately. yes, since the moment they are born in a way, since the moment zero, they don't have the right to anything because most of the time these kids are not registered because it costs money to register a child. so it starts from there. the story take place in lebanon. this is where i live and this is where i can tell my story because this is something i know very well, but this is not only happening in lebanon. this is happening in every big
city of the world. this coper numb we're talking about, it means chaos. it means chaos and miracle at the same time. so this is the story of any big city of the world right now, unfortunately. >> you were able to get into parts of the city that, if i was a tourist, i'm never going to see. how did you get the buy-in from the neighborhood, from the street? because a lot of times people in dire straits they say, i don't want you to show this side of my city or my country >> it wasn't even a choice for me. it was a duty at some point. it was my duty to show it. because this is a problem that is becoming part of our daily lives, the sight of children on the streets, children begging, working, selling gum, carrying heavy loads, children who are derived from their most basic rights. these children are paying the
highest price for our thoughts and our conflicts and wars and our stupid decisions and stupid governments and failing systems. and so it was my duty in a way to talk about it. i was collaborating on this crime if i was going to be silent. i started researching and going through those places, you know. you imagine this kid's life and family, but droyou don't know behind the scenes where he goes around the corner, what is his life, who is his family, what is his everyday struggle, what is he feeling towards this injustice that he's living? it started like that, wanting to know more, going to those places, meeting children, talking to children, then talking to the parents because i needed to understand tallahassee
tell me about zane, the actor who plays him. we don't see it in this particular scene, but it's a remarkable performance by this young man. >> he's a miracle boy. he's truly a miracle. zane is a syrian refugee. he's been living in lebanon in very, very difficult circumstances for the past eight years through the war in syria with his family. so he was living in one of those
very difficult neighborhoods. his situation was even more difficult than what you see in the enrichment the only difference, zane has loving parents. >> in real life. >> yes in a way they knew how to love him. they never went to school. at the moment we were shooting the film, he was 12. he didn't know how to write his name. >> but he's quite smart. >> very smart. very smart because zane, obviously, he learned at the school of life and the streets. this is where he learned everything. this is where he learned to survive. he had to struggle every day to exist. when you see those kids fighting, when you see those kids struggling with life, they're not kids anymore. you understand it when you hear him talk, when you hear his foul language, his body language. zane is smaller because of
malnutrition. you would think he was eight or nine maximum when you look at him. he has sad eyes that explains to you everything he's been through. his eyes have witnessed a lot of abuse and mistreatment. he's seen his neighbors getting married at 11 or 12 years old, sold. they're actually sold under the excuse of marriage. she knows everything he's talking about in this film. he is those kids, and he knew, he understood that he was on a mission, that he was becoming the voice of those voiceless kids he was representing. this gave him also a lot of strength, we were all collaborating in a way. we felt like a team. he was part of that mission
>> which is why you chose the type of cast you did? you were casting as you were shooting the film? >> yes. >> these were not professionals, there was not an audition that went out. >> the casting department was just amazing. they would go everywhere in lebanon, go to the most dangerous and unfortunate places, interview kids, interview the parents. zane was found in the streets. he was playing in his neighborhood. the casting director saw him and interviewed him. as soon as i saw the interview, it was obvious two minutes into the interview that i had found him. >> their real-life experiences informed your script. >> yes, absolutely, all the time. of course we had a very solid script to start with because it's impossible to improvise if you don't know your material very well. our script was our solid base.
it was our starting point and our landing point every time in every scene. but in the meantime, we are open to whatever life is going to give us also and to whatever the actors have to say or have to give or have to add. i felt like i don't have the right to impose anything on them or any reality or anything i had imagined. when i was riching i knew i had to draw in whatever i was seeing, that reality, and in a way, transpose it in the script. i don't have the right to imagine that story. i have to be the vehicle for them to express themselves, for them to tell me their real story. so it was a collaborating process the whole time. >> another character in the film that was really quite a good performance is ra hill. >> ra hill is also -- she's from
eretreria and ended up in lebanon. she lost her parents at a young age. she was an orphan when she was very young. she had to take care of her siblings. she had a very, very difficult life. and then she ended up in lebanon at some point and in lebanon also under this sponsorship system, the situation is very difficult. it's almost like modern slavery in a way. she had no papers, so she was living illegally. she wasn't obviously happy in the house with the employer she was working with. most of them work as domestic workers in houses. she was working at a house and she was not happy so she left and she was a runaway in a way. so she was living illegally in lebanon. when the casting director saw her also and interviewed her, in the beginning it was difficult because she was scared also who
are these people interviewing me, why i'm in an illegal situation. it took time to build this trust. she's magic when you see the film. she's magic because she's been through very difficult circumstances and she knows everything she's talking about in the film. she knows that suffering, she's been there, you don't need to explain it, you don't need to act it in a way. she is that person. >> there's a certain universality here in the importance of papers, of identity. you can talk about it to a character that's a refugee from
syria or from air treeia or the undocumented living in the united states every day. >> that was an important scene in the film. if you analyze it, almost each one of the characters has the same problem for different reasons. and i wanted to talk about the absurdity of having to have a paper to prove that you exist where you are here, your own flesh and blood, you exist, you really do exist, but you have to have this piece of paper. and if you don't, you don't have the right to anything. >> there's no sugar coating this film. it is a hard film to watch, that's the point. is there anything we can hope for? because you get out of this film thinking it's pretty bleak. not that you should make peoplefield feel good if it's not the truth >> you know that smile at the
end of the film? the fact that zane looks at you this only time for the first time, looks at you as a viewer. the eyes, it's a way of engaging with you and saying i'm here, i exist, look at me, stop being oblivious. we're not talking about hundreds or thousands of kids. we're talking about millions of kids across the world. they say there's over 280 million children across the world in those situations, children working to feed their families, children hungry. this is what the ending means. we have to look at the problem. we have to look at those children, and we have to acknowledge the problem, otherwise we are on the verge of a big catastrophe. it's going to explode in our faces. these kids are very angry and one day they're going to grow up
>> the neighboring countries are picking up the brunt of this weight and their economy can't handle it. >> it's unimaginable to think that only ten countries in the world have almost 60% of the burden of this crisis, of the syrian refugee crisis. in lebanon, 1 in 6 people is a syrian refugee. in jordan, 1 in 14. in turkey, there's 3.5 million refugees. it's really the neighboring countries. and unfortunately they are in their own economical crisis, each one of those countries is struggling with their own economic situation. in lebanon, ever since we were kids in school, the teacher used to tell us, you see that
invisible dot on the map? this is lebanon. this is your country. so this invisible dot on the map is actually hosting in proportion with the portion in lebanon, it has the highest number of refugees in the world, it's almost half the population. this cannot be the burden of one or two or three countries. this is a shared responsibility. >> well, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. and so we send our best wishes to nadine labaki and ethan hawke at the or cars at them ceremony will air february 24th. that's it for our program tonight. thank you for watching "amanpour & co." on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman's 60-year culinary career began, she didn't know the recipes from her
cookbook would make their way to her river cruise line, uniworld. bea's locally inspired cuisine is served while cruising through europe, asia, india, and egypt because, according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser. for more information, visit uniworld.com >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, seton melvin, judy and josh weston, the jpb foundation, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you are watching pbs.