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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  February 26, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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hello, everyone. welcome to amanpour & company. here's what's coming up. >> i think we can have a very good summit. >> a big week for president trump. he has a second meeting with the north korean leader just as his former personal lawyer testifies before congress. we take stock of what's to come. plus -- >> congratulations. >> thank you. >> diversity wins at the academy awards. i speak with oscar nominated actor about his directorial debut. and removing the stigma from schizophrenia. finding success and happiness
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living with mental illness. she sits down with alicia mendez. [ brought to you by -- according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser. for more information visit uniworld.com. >> additional support provided by rosalyn p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar walken hiem, iii judd and josh weston. the jpb foundation and by
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contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. president trump is starting what could be one of the most important weeks of his presidency. he leaves washington for vietnam today for a second summit with kim jong-un. he will also be trying to leave behind his political troubles as his former personal lawyer michael cohen testifies on capitol hill publicly the very same day as the summit starts. the national emergency trump declared to build a border wall is facing increasing oppositions. the house of representatives tomorrow will try to block the executive action and 58 former national security officials today have issued a statement saying they see no evidence from trump's own administration that would justify the use of this executive action as a matter of national security. there are bipartisan groups hailing from the administrations
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of president bush, clinton and obama. nicholas burns served under presidents clinton and bush and is joining me from harvard university. also joining me is scott jennings who served as special assistant to president george w. bush. welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> good evening. >> good evening to you. let me ask you, the premise is right, right? this is a very big week for president trump on all sorts of levels. very important business overseas. very important political dramas taking place at home. scott jennings, what do you think will be the president's reaction to this and how do you feel this week will go down? >> well, i think the president continues to deserve a lot of credit for trying to engage with the north koreans. this has been one of the biggest foreign policy issues he's tackled. it's obviously been left undone and open ended by several previous administrations. he's trying something new and deserves credit for that.
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he needs to be prepared to be disappointed by the north koreans. it's good to engage and tamp down tensions on the peninsula, but these folks so far have not shown a willingness to denuclearize which is what he's pressing for this week. on the home front he needs to be prepared for simple majorities in the house and senate to disapprove of his emergency declaration. then he needs to be prepared to issue a veto. i don't believe veto-proof super majorities exist to throw this thing out but i believe simple majorities may exist to show disapproval. it will be a short-term blip but i don't think it will change the overall policy. >> what do you think the michael cohen testimony will mean? it's bound to be some kind of televised split screen with the president in hanoi and michael cohen in washington and all sorts of narrative around that. i mean, the president kind of needs a success overseas, right, this week? >> well, i think it would be
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good for him to dominate the news overseas with some interesting announcements coming out of the meeting. we made progress on denuclearization. we got concrete evidence of something happening. that would drown out some of the bad news that could be coming out of the cohen testimony, although i'm not expecting much new out of cohen. i think we know what we know. they cannot ask him about russia-related matters in the testimony. unless cohen comes up with something new, a bombshell, to me by far what americans will be most interested in this week -- did the president achieve anything with the north koreans. of course we are still watching the situation in venezuela as well. those things are more important to the national affairs than what cohen might say about his personal interactions with the president. >> nicholas burns, do you agree with that -- that what's happening at home is less significant, less massively important than this meeting which is really important
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between the leader of the united states and the nuclear armed leader of north korea? >> i think it's a consequential week at home and overseas for the president. the cohen testimony is going to be consequential i think for public opinion. hearing things for the first time from mr. cohen on a sustained basis. certainly this declaration of national emergency is going to be repudiated by majorities of the house and senate. many members of the republican party as well as the democrats of course were opposed to what they see as presidential overreach. this is taking moneys appropriated by congress for different purposes and putting them forward for this wall. i did sign this declaration, a bipartisan declaration -- republicans and democrats saying there is no national emergency at the border that would lead you to -- lead the president to expropriate funds from other purposes. illegal crossings are at a
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nearly 40-year low. if we are worried about terrorism -- and we should be -- and worried about drugs coming across the border they are coming through legal ports of entry and airports. a wall won't diminish that problem. the president is on extremely thin ice here at home. that will be part of the focus. >> you have been in the national security establishment. you have been around tables, a nato ambassador. you have worked for presidents on these issues. what can we expect? what must the president come home with from hanoi? >> well, i think this is going to be a difficult meeting for the president. i also believe the president was right to turn towards diplomacy with kim jong-un. we are in a far better situation now than a year ago. the temperature has been reduced between the two. the threat of war has been at least for the short-term and that's a good thing, diminished.
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the fact that they are talking is positive. the president's challenge in this meeting is will the north koreans actually make any attempt to compromise and to negotiate seriously? they have not declared where their nuclear facilities are. either the fissile material or the nuclear weapons. they have not taken any meaningful steps to dismantle the nuclear apparatus. there is a lot of evidence that they have been continuing the research into developing nuclear missiles including a weapon that in the future could threaten the continental united states. in the meantime the president has diminished pressure on north korea. he talks in few sieeffusive tert kim jong-un. he said they were in love and had exchanged beautiful letters between them. the consequence of that is that kim is emerging from his
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isolation. the pressure of sanctions has been reduced by china and russia. the u.s. is argue poably in a m weaker position than we were when the negotiation started. no indication kim will come through with meaningful compromise. >> i will put this to both of you. obviously both of you feel strongly that the next move has to be kim's move. but just to play devil's advocate and having listened to other negotiators for instance during the clinton administration where, let's be frank, an agreed framework was agreed and it did last for many years and it significantly guess i'm trying to say kim e has done what he said he would do -- no more nuclear testing, no more intercontinental ballistic missile testing. he hasn't got anything.
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he hasn't got a reduction of the sanctions or nothing. he may have nice words from president trump. but he hasn't got anything yet. from both of your perspectives, but first you, scott, what can the american people tolerate and what can the political space tolerate because negotiations take time. it takes give and take. it's not going to happen overnight. will people give these two leaders the space to actually come to some kind of a deal? scott, first you. >> yeah. i think they will take -- president trump will get latitude from the american people. this seemed like an intractable problem. now that we are trying something new people understand that it does take time. i think president trump has given the head of north korea something valuable and that's oxygen. he's given him attention. he elevated him on the world stage and said very nice things about him. he's given him a chance here to
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play on a larger field. that's something the north koreans craved. so now we need concrete evidence that they are going to move towards denuclearization. i think as long as president trump keeps the tensions down, as long as it feels like we are not on the brink of nuclear war which it did feel like in the summer of 2017 if you talk to some folks. as long as it feels like we are moving towards a process that gets us what we want here which is a safer world where north korea isn't threatening the rest of the world with nuclear weapons he's going to get a lot of latitude from the american people. if it ever starts to feel like, however, that the north koreans are taking advantage of president trump, taking advantage of the united states and stringing us along, then i think there will be pressure on president trump to understand the reality of this that perhaps he doesn't have a good faith negotiating partner. we are a long way from that. he has a lot of leash here to pull off a solution that evaded
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several previous administrations. nicholas burns, scott keeps saying eluded different and previous administrations. i keep saying the clinton administration did actually have a deal that did work. am i right? nick burns, that deal did work and i just want you to respond to president trump's tweet. so funny to watch people who have failed for years -- they got nothing -- telling me how to negotiate with north korea, but thanks anyway. give us the history, the correct factual history. >> the agreed framework of 1994 did work for a number of years. president clinton negotiated that with the father of kim jong-un. then president george w. bush negotiated in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that worked for a time. in both instances north korea didn't fulfill the commitments they made to president clinton and president george w. bush. i agree with scott. i think the american people
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understand the north koreans are responsible for the problem, not president trump. it's not his fault. he assumed this problem. i think people will be willing to give the president some time. the problem is this. they are going in position of the trump administration is the complete dismantlement of the nuclear weapons of the north korean regime. it seems we are making very little progress on that. so one thing kim wants to do is emerge from isolation. he wants capital investment, the end of the sanctions and the united states right now is in a position where kim is getting a bit of what he wants. we are not getting what we want. it does seem to me in agreeing to the second summit meeting, the one coming up in a couple of days in hanoi, i hope the president has private assurances that some of the compromises will be forthcoming from the north korean regime. if it doesn't happen, it does look like we are being taken advantage of. it looks like we are very far
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from our goal. nuclear weapons disappear from the territory of north korea. kim's desire is to maintain the nuclear weapons. and get sanctions relief and emerge from isolation. right now he's ahead on points in the negotiations. >> again, it is interesting because i have been talking to a previous negotiator who believes that kim actually could -- he believes kim has pivoted from perfecting or whatever, raising the art of his nuclear deterrent to now pivoting towards the economy. we'll see what that means. let me ask you to this point, scott, because the president -- there seems to be an argument between the president and his secretary of state over whether there is a nuclear threat. after the last summit the president tweeted there is no longer a nuclear threat from north korea. just yesterday the secretary of state said, in fact, there was.
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is that at issue? going in with the president and the secretary of state not on the same page about the actual threat? >> i don't think it is an issue. the president's word is all that matters here. he's the one going to the summit, having the face to face negotiation. the administration officials need to be on the same page as it relates to delicate negotiations like this. they need to use the same language. at the end of the day, it's president to president here. in his words and his public statements before and after the summit are really all that matters. what the president tried to emphasize since the last meeting is, look, we were in a place where there was missile testing. it seemed like the north koreans were ratcheting up their public rhetoric and it seemed we were moving closer to conflict than further away. since we have had engagement and this meeting and we'll have another meeting that the prospect of conflict has gone far away. it's true, the north koreans
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haven't done much to denuclearize yet. we can't take our eyes off the ball. the tension is reduced and that's what the president wants people to focus on here. i have ratcheted down tensions. now we take the next step and get results. let's hope he has a good faith negotiating partner. i'm not confident he does but hope springs eternal for a good outcome. >> nicholas burns, let me ask about venezuela. after what many would criticize the president for giving oxygen to authoritarians around the world whether it's turkey or saudi arabia or wherever it might be, russia, he has also stepped in on the side on democrats and democracy in venezuela. democratic senator chris murphy said, look, we have to be for this. we may not approve of everything president trump does, but we have to be the country that stands on the side of democracy. he's right. this is a good thing the president is doing, right?
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>> i think it is. senator murphy is right to suggest that. the president is in the right position here. the maduro government is a thugocracy that's exploited the people. the economy has fallen apart. there is widespread opposition. you have a situation now where a great number of the countries of latin america including colombia and brazil and a number in western europe support the guaido government. the trump administration has been absolutely right to take the position that they had. the tactical problem we had is president trump through tweets and public statements wants to lead the parade against maduro. it would be more effectively led by a brazilian or colombian or central american leader given the history of the united states in latin america, the perception among many in decades past has
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had a difficult relationship with them. better for the u.s. to stay in the background using our economic influence, ability to influence this coalition of countries that's come out against the maduro government. let someone else lead it. that would be my only critique on tactical grounds. t strategically the president is right about this. >> look, these are some of the issues we have been discussing on these very necessary engagements -- venezuela, north korea, et cetera. syria, of course, is a different matter. the president famously in december said, okay, everybody's coming out, we are pulling the u.s. troops out and that caused humongous problems with his own party, with the allies, with everybody that said this is a recipe for disaster. we have seen this movie before. senator lindsey graham has been publicly very supportive and flattering of the president, but privately as well lobbying
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pretty smartly to keep troops in. it looks like american troops will remain inside syria. that's the other flip side of president trump. he makes policy statements on twitter without consulting people and pretty much has to backtrack. >> i think he's getting good advice from senator graham on syria like he's getting good advice from senator marco rubio and vice president pence on venezuela. the president sometimes rushes out with policy statements but in the end on both matters i think he's going to wind up in the right place, leading a global coalition on venezuela and a u.s. presence in syria that hopefully doesn't allow isis or any other bad actors to take back the hard won gains that the united states has led on in the region. i think the president here is in the right in listening to some of his senate republican advisers on the hot spot foreign policy matters. i hope he continues to do it.
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it strikes me the advice is right on and his willingness to take it shows perhaps he's growing into the foreign policy piece of the job more than when he started. >> nicholas burns, what do you think? growing into the foreign policy job better? we had the musnich conference ad allies said after two years of trumpism on the international stage we are now really concerned, not just about keeping the alliance together, but what is america doing? >> the president is not growing into the job. he's shown little aptitude to adapt to changing circumstances. he's driving our allies away. on syria he's been wildly inconsistent. his initial twitter policy statement meant secretary mattis had to resign. the best, strongest person in the cabinet had to leave on a point of principle. the administration had to backtrack because of pressure
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from nato allies saying we are not going to stay in syria if you're leaving. the president has confused everyone. he almost sold out our friends, the syrian kurds. i was in munich and to see the chancellor of germany, one of our closest friends in the world deconstruct the president's policies bit by bit, the president has not stood up for article 5 of the nato guarantee that an attack on one is an attack on all. the president has embraced the polish government and has become the leading critic of angela merk merkel, theresa may, macron and trudeau. this president is doing enormous damage to the national security of the yiechlunited states. we see it in syria, europe, through his weak negotiating on
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north korea. i'm very concerned. >> nicholas burns, scott jennings, thank you so much. it will be a big week. we'll be in vietnam to monitor and watch the summit. thank you very much indeed for joining us. it is easy to get lost in the thick of the divisive politics so it's nice once in a while to see progress. just three years ago the academy awards were judged so white after years of all-white nominees in the acting categories. this year not so much as gender and racial diversity dominated the top winners from acting to screenplay to director. it begs the question, is this a lasting change? the oscar nominated actor chiwetel ejiofor might have a thing or two to say about this in his directorial debut he's portraying a part of the world rarely shown in its all too human complexity. that's africa.
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mere here is a clip from the trailer of the new film. >> the rains came late this year and now the trees have gone. malawi is preparing for a long hungry season. >> that's from "the boy who harnessed the wind." when chiwetel ejiofor joined m from new york he talked about adapting this incredible true story of a 13-year-old boy from malawi who harnessed the wind through simple yet ingenious bicycle pump technology to save his village. chiwetel ejiofor, welcome to the program. >> thank you. great to be here. >> there you are in the united states. obviously we are hot off the
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oscars. you yourself have been nominated in the past certainly for "12 years a slave" as best actor. what do you make of the crop of nominees, especially the crop of winners? do you think there was enough diversity? how do you feel the day after? >> i thought it was an extraordinary and kind of wonderful event. i thought there was a very diverse range of nominations. a great diverse range of winners. i thought a really incredible array of films, different films, different points of view, different perspectives, just different understandings of the world in a very artistic context. it was in terms of winners and nominees it was a very, very rich evening. >> i have read that you decided to be an actor partly because you thought being black, being african, having a name like
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chiwetel ejiofor was not going to allow for you to compete on a level playing field in any other endeavor. i just wonder what you make of that. >> yeah. i think that's true. as i was growing up i had deep concerns about the idea of very deeply structured systemic racial bias. that was something i understood from a very young age that certain things were not going to be as easily accessible or available to me. it's historically why a lot of black people have gone into the entertainment industry or sports and so on where they can -- where there is a feeling at least or the potential that you can allow simply whatever you are presenting, your talents to speak for themselves in a way. but you are not doing it through the lens of a systemic issue that people may not allow you to do the work that somebody else might get chosen for. you are not walking into an
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interview situation with other people that are your contemporaries who are white, essentially. therefore have either a seismic or a slight advantage to you. which then repeated over several years or interviews could be a very large gap between what you are able to achieve and what they are able to achieve. looking outside of the box of those things when i was young and thinking, well, how do i then access things that don't have a racial bias necessarily? they will to some degree, but a reduced racial bias or a racial bias i can influence more actively? that's when you look at entertainment, athletics, music. those professions, in my mind anyway, you can try and approach from that angle where you might have more control. >> it's really fascinating. i wonder, spike lee told me that it's one thing to have all this
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diversity and after the white debacle making diversity properly represented. he said until gatekeepers get it, it will be difficult. i guess those are studio heads, big producers and things like that. i wonder how you feel and what propelled you to go from actor to director, writer, you know, doing all of these things in the new flailm which is amazing, "t boy who harnessed the wind". >> all those elements are true. taking control and putting one's own perspective into the mix and doing it by writing, directing or producing and starting to be part of that conversation is a very important and functional way of doing that. it really wasn't what was on my mind when i was starting the process of writing and directing "the boy who harnessed the
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wind." i fell in love with the story. it was simple in a way. this 13-year-old boy in malawi in these impoverished, challenging circumstances living in the solution and doing it with so much tenacity and hoeff hopefulliness. >> living in the solution. it's really true. this 13-year-old boy who persuaded his father to go to school and he discovers somehow through his classes how to make a wind turbine to harness the wind, make electricity and basically save his community which was going through a terrible drought and crops were dying and no water. let me play a clip where he's convincing his own father -- the boy is called william kamkwamba. he's convincing his father in
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this clip. it's extraordinary. when i say his father of course you are playing his father.
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how did youiscover the actor? he's not actually a formally trained actor, is he? >> he's not, no. maxwell is a beautiful brilliant actor. you know, he was in -- we found him in kenya just outside nay robie. i was stunned when i saw his tape. i was in london watching him on a computer. just his emotional intelligence. he's a very smart boy anyway. just the way he's able to interpret that artistically and through minimal -- a minimal way of acting which actually is very sophisticated, very difficult to do. it takes quite a lot of confidence to be quite so small but allow that kind of emotional depth to come across. he was really able to do that and capture that. i was just thrilled to have found somebody of that talent to play the part. >> it's interesting. you talk about confidence.
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i wonder if it's the confidence of the ingenue who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. do you think before we get back to the story that maxwell himself will see acting as a profession that, like you, can propel him into a career where he competes on his merits? >> i hope so. he's still very keen to explore the sciences. that's what his passion is. that's what he wants to continue to study. he loves the arts as well. i think he's somebody that can find the kind of balance between those things. it's a great string to his bow. i hope he continues to explore it as he gets older. he's so good at it. >> i didn't know he was scientifically inclined. i thought that was just for the film. how remarkable that you actually found somebody who was very much like william, the original
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protagonist. let's play a little ten-second clip of when he realizes the pump and how to harness the energy. >> anythig new? >> the pump. >> can you fix it? >> maybe. >> when you turn the wheel on the bike, the light changed. how? >> i know how to do it. >> you've done it in the local dialect, right? why did you decide to do that and why did you think subtitles would be an attractive way to do it? they are. all of the sudden out of nowhere many of the films that were nominated for oscars and awards are subtitled this year. >> that's a happy coincidence. i didn't predict that. i was trying to tell the story
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as authentically as possible. so it was to work in the language and they speak a lot of english in malawi as well so there was a balance and a mix of those two things. the hope was that the audience would come to it with the idea of the authentic energy would bring in the audience to embrace that sense of entering into these private spaces. spaces that we are not often involved in or often see things from the point of view of the people who experience it. those seem like rich ideas for me. it's hard work learning the language. other actors had to do it as well. we cast people in malawi. they had the challenge. we could work together in this kind of unit to bring an authentic representation of the film. it's been great. audiences this year as you see with "roma" have started to embrace the idea of having authentic experiences from these countries and allowing the language to do that work as
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well. >> you mentioned "roma." that's alfonso cuaron. he directed you in "children of men." not only was his film and your film and "the cold war" subtitled bringing that authenticity but they were putting people who were almost never showcased like a nanny, a domestic worker in mexico becomes the lead of a story. like this 13-year-old boy in a village becomes the protagonist, et cetera, et cetera. you must have reflected on what it is that is hitting the audience's sweet spot. is it because people are yearning for authenticity? they are fed up with the backlash against the foreigner? what do you think? >> all of these things are true. i think we are living in a time where we are being kind of pushed to have this, i guess
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individu individualistic spirit and turn our backs on what's different. that's the challenge of diversity in cinema and the arts. we can see things from different points of view. we can understand situations from inside them. in our lives and experiences can be enriched, enlivened by understanding the world more fully, understanding people more fully, understanding their history, background and circumstances more fully by the arts really engaging with that. and understanding how we are similar, how we are different and thereby being able to have a settled place of a conversation. of a deep and richer conversation. >> i want to play this little clip that really got to me. i know why it got to me. i want to ask you about it. it's between you as the dad -- william's dad and his mother.
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so, look, it really got to me. not only are they discussing their child's education, his
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future, but the affection between man and wife is something that you do not often see -- the physical affection, the look in their eyes, the tone of their voice towards each other. you know, he touches her face. you don't often see that in these films of hardship and scrabble for survival, especially in africa. was that conscious for you, really showing the affection between the parents? >> yeah, absolutely. i wanted to invite the audience into private spaces. to see people discussing ordinary, general, common things. understanding the dynamics of their relationship from inside of it. from being invited to participate and to share in their world as opposed to looking at people from outside. not just what they are but who they are and what their
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background is, their dynamics, how they met, what their jokes are, how they laugh and show affection toward each other. all of these things, i think, haven't been explored in cinema, especially in these kind of circumstances. especially with the way we look at people who are in impoverished circumstances, dealing with poverty and dealing with challenges. we somehow detach from their humanity sometimes. >> i wonder also how playing his father impacted you personally because you lost your own father when you were 11 in a pretty violent way. you were in a car crash. he was killed. you were in a coma. did any of that come up to the surface while you were directing and playing this role? >> yes, to a degree. from when i read the book and started to adapt it i was discussing the ideas and thinking about those ideas. i was aware some of the conversations i never got a chance to have with my father in terms of the generational shift.
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i imagined not really what the tensions would be because they would have been completely different. it was a very different circumstance with my father and not nearly so fraught, i imagine. the kind of conversation, the challenges of a generation handing over to another generation are and how they do inform our world and all of our lives. >> it was very, very affecting. finally, you played perhaps an iconic, game-changing role in "12 years a slave." the great steve mcqueen was the director. you are about to play a different way an iconic character in "the lion king." you will be scar. beyonce and a mega watt cast. how does that feel? want to give us a line? >> i can't give you any lines. but it certainly felt amazing. you know, "the lion king" was an incredible part of my childhood.
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i'm thrilled that a younger generation gets to share and participate in this amazing bit of storytelling that was so impactful. i couldn't have been more thrilled to have been asked to join in and play scar. i am as excited as everybody else really to see it and to -- >> we'll be looking forward to it. chiwetel ejiofor, thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you. pleasure. thank you. while we await "the lion king," "the boy who harnessed the wind" will be available on netflix starting friday. for most of us nothing is scarier than the thought of losing our minds. with dementia and the flood of mental illnesses every day millions live with what are often crippling differences and disadvantages. after years of struggling with her own depression and hallucinations, award winning author ezme wang was diagnosed
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with affective schizophrenia. instead of giving in to the illness she wrote about it, lived it. the result was a "new york times" bestselling series of essays called "the collected squiz first and schizophrenias." she sat down to discuss her journey. >> thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> tell me, when is the first time you remember thinking i am not well? >> i started to have some form of mental illness around 5 of 6 years old. it was unusual. i was having a lot of obsessive compulsive behaviors but i didn't know that's what they were at the time. in terms of psychotic symptoms which is what i primarily write about in the collected schizophrenias that was during my junior year at stanford.
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i was hearing voices for the first time. >> your diagnosis evolved over time. in high school you were diagnosed with depression. in college that diagnosis becombecome s bipolar disorder. your doctors were resistant to name it as schizophrenia. why was that? >> it took about eight years to go from a diagnosis of bipolar disorder to schizo-affective disorder. because i was a psychology undergrad, that was my major, i knew it was unusual to experience psychotic symptoms in between mood episodes. you can be experiencing psychosis during mania or depression. that's something that's within the realm of clinical depression or during bipolar disorder. so when i first went to my psychiatrist and said i'm
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experiencing these psychotic symptoms, we even were very delicate and careful about the language we used. i think we said something like sensory oddities. we didn't use the words hallucinations at the time. part of it was the stigma that occurred not only within pop culture or within culture at large but even within the medical community. i think the psychiatrist i had at the time when i first started having the symptoms was concerned that if i had a big diagnosis that existed within the schizophrenias that something would happen inside of me. to put it dramatically maybe something would break. i had always been really overachieving. i was at yale. then i was at stanford. i graduated from stanford with a
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3.99 gpa even though i was experiencing psychotic symptoms. >> you realize how many people would hear that and ask how it's possible. >> i say it and i'm not sure how it was possible. it was really tough. maybe it was right for my psychiatrist to not tell me. maybe it was right for my official diagnosis to not change to schizo a feffective disorder that time. because it didn't officially change i still remain within the realm of, okay, you are still outside the schizophrenias within the realm of bipolar disorder, this thing that can be a little bit romantic. >> managed. >> and managed. so we stayed within this weird realm of, you know, sensory oddities and such. even delusions for quite a while
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before finally my next psychiatrist had to say, you know, it's gotten to the point where we have to say this is schizo effective disorder and we have to make the diagnosis. >> was there a part of you at yale that thought, i will never make it through? >> yeah. there were so many times i thought i don't know how i'm going to do this. there were times i could not function without sleeping at least 17 hours a day. there was so much work. i mean, like a school like that, there was so much work to do. i just had to sleep. i couldn't get to my classes. i was really, really struggling. i ended up hospitalized twice. the first time i was involuntarily hospitalized. they told me i could come and
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finish out the year if one of my parents who ended up being my mother, came and lived with me for the remainder of the year. so she did. at the time i didn't have a particularly good relationship with my mother. >> you had friends concerned that your mother coming would make it worse. >> yeah. fortunately things got better between my mother and myself at that time. but, yeah, she came and stayed with me in a small apartment outside of the campus because they didn't want me on campus. then the following year in my sophomore year i was hospitalized again. at that point they were like you need to not be here. >> how do you feel about the way the university handled your case? >> it's really tricky. i was very angry for a very long time. i think in the years since -- i
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mean, it's been a while. that happened around 2003 or so. so i see it from the school's point of view. there is a lot of concern about liability. you know, students hurt other students, hurt themselves, their parents sue the school. i hope some form of best practices will be formed for higher education institutions because there is no best practice. every college and university has a different way of dealing with students who have severe forms of mental health issues. >> there is a lot of high achievement in your life. there is a passage in the book i would like for you to read. >> other signifiers, my wedding ring, a reference to the 16-year relationship i have managed to keep. descriptions of my treatment plan as if it were a stable, infallible rosetta stone when in
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fact the plan changes constantly in response to my ever-changing brain chemistry. the mention of a small online business based on digital products and freelance work i started in early 2014. with these signifiers i'm trying to say that i am a wife, a good patient, an entrepreneur. i am also schizo effective, living with the disorder, mental illness, living with mental health challenges, crazy, insane, but i am just like you. >> why is that so hard for people to hear? >> i think just the word schizophrenia and that diagnosis in particular is so stigmatized. in terms of mental i willness a the way we talk about it in society now we have made
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enormous strides in talking about depression, anxiety. there is still stigma around those things, but i did and i do feel like especially when i was working on the book that schizophrenia is still a very taboo subject. it is one that people don't understand. so when i was writing that passage that i just read it had a lot to do with the things that i do -- the armor that i put on, whether it's actual physical armor like the clothes that i wear or the jewelry that i wear or even just the signifiers that are more abstract. like the things i talk about being able to manage a relationship. being, quote/unquote, high functioning. those things are ways in which i defend myself. >> i want you to read a second
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passage from the book, one i found particularly moving. >> once i did want biological children. hours after pausing in front of a children's clothing store in san jose, california, i did not. it was early in my relationship with c who was then still only a boyfriend, still in his early 20s. i watched women purchase tiny pea coats and miniature blouses with peter pan collars with my own shopping bags hanging at my sides. later i called him and said, i was at gymboree earlier and i thought of you. he'd spoken several times of wanting to have children with me this was the first time that i had, however vaguely, returned the sentiment. he was quiet. i talked to my mom, he said. i didn't understand. she said that mental illness is
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genetic. oh. never mind then, i said. forget i said anything. i didn't mean it. >> it was hard to read. was it hard to write? >> yeah. it was perhaps the hardest to live. that essay is called the choice of children. it's very much about the kind of push and pull i have experienced over the years about wanting to have children and deciding not to have children. then going to volunteer as a camp counselor with my then boyfriend, now husband at a camp for kids with bipolar disorder. what a phenomenal and intense experience that was.
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and how that really complicated my thoughts about having children. >> what was the debate in your mind about wanting them versus the realities of having them. >> i had concerns about whether a child would inherit the illnesses that i have. i didn't know if i would want a child to suffer in the ways that i have suffered and continue to suffer. the idea of watching them go through these things and to love that person so deeply really scared me. there were so many concerns i had. and so i had never particularly been so deeply maternal or wanted to have children to begin w. i wonder if that thought that
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kind of so-called distaste for wanting to have children did originate from that conversation about gymboree where i decided it was probably for the best not to have children. >> we talk a lot about the gifts that accompany mental illness. the empathy that accompanies depression, creativity that accompanies schizophrenia. how do you reconcile the gifts that come with the offset of those gifts? >> i do not experience them as bestowing me with gifts so much as bestowing me with a lot of suffering. i talk in the book about exploring the spiritual aspect and i talk about what it could mean for super natural things
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that perhaps like i could have super natural abilities or perhaps i have a spiritual mentor who in the book tells me about certain things that my visions could mean. so there are ways in which this whole idea of psychosis is a gift or schizophrenia is a gift, this is something i explore. it is not foreign to me. in the end i still just think so much of all of the suffering that happened. right now, i'm in a fairly stable place. i mean, i want to knock on wood like as soon as i said that. i found a treatment plan that works well for me. i don't want to rock the boat. you know, sometimes i have a breakthrough period here and there where something will happen in my brain and i'll have
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a h-h hallucination period. i hope none of it is as bad as it was in the periods that i wrote about in this book. but who knows? i never know if it will come back. i just connect it all so much with suffering that it's hard to think of it as having gifts. >> congratulations on the book. it's truly beautiful. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. it's a story of how precarious progress can be in these cases. of course the importance of living one day at a time. that's it for our program tonight. thank you for watching "amanpour & company" on pbs. join us again tomorrow night. >> unaworld is a proud sponsor of amanpour and company. when bea's culinary career began
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she didn't know the recipes would make the way to her river cruise line. bea's locally inspired cuisine is served 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 unaworld.com. additional support provided by --
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