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Ben Affleck's Iran Movie Research Shows Little Progress Over 30 Years: 'Have We Not Progressed?'

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BEN AFFLECK IRAN MOVIE
Ben Affleck screens his Iran movie, 'Argo,' at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif. on October 12, 2012. | AP

On a night where many Americans tuned in to watch Joe Biden and Paul Ryan go head-to-head in the Vice Presidential Debate, Hollywood leading man Ben Affleck was at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif., proving that he isn't a good director -- he's a great one.

His latest project, "Argo," is a suspense-packed film about the CIA's mission to free six American diplomats from the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The parallels between the politics of 1979 and the politics of 2012, especially on the night of the Vice Presidential Debate, ignited a spark in Ben Affleck that left us echoing his own question about our nation: Have we not progressed at all?

HuffPost: Everyone's minds are on the debate tonight and "Argo" is clearly a very political film. Is there something that is particularly important to you in this election season, something that you feel especially passionate about?
Ben Affleck: There are so many things that I feel passionate about in this election season. In terms of specifics to this movie, I hadn't anticipated it being as relevant as it turned out to be. Particularly when you see the footage that I looked at for research from thirty-plus years ago, it looks almost identical to what we are seeing on television in Libya and Egypt.

So on the one hand, I think it does reflect an urgency. We have to ask ourselves, have we not progressed at all? Are we just repeating the same pattern? Have we not figured out in any way how to crack this frankly complicated issue of our relationship with the Muslim world?

Do you feel that urgency as a filmmaker?
I feel it as a person. That seems to be the most important region in the world right now. Certainly the most combustible. You know? And I think I'm not the only person who has that opinion. For me, in making this movie, what I thought was – okay, part of this story is about how we kind of got in business with the Shah, because he was pro-Western and he optically did a lot of things that we liked, and we looked the other way when it came to corruption and political oppression, and then there was this revolution. And to me, that is similar to what happened in Egypt and has some relevance to the Arab Spring.

We keep asking ourselves how involved do we get in these kinds of things? We had the Bush doctrine which was completely invade a country and turn it upside down and try to rebuild it -- and it wasn’t successful. I don’t think anybody would advocate taking that route anymore. But no one has found another answer, either.

There's a lot of really tricky, thorny stuff and relationships with a lot of countries whose values don’t necessarily reflect ours, like Saudi Arabia. And we’re not sure how to interpose ourselves -- for example -- in Syria, where clearly it seems like the regime is corrupt and violent and vicious, and we've armed some rebels but we have to ask ourselves who are the rebels? Libya points that out. It's really complicated and it merits our attention.

Did you TiVo the VP debate tonight?
Yes! The Vice Presidential debates are usually a little more rough n' ready. They're like professional wrestlers. They try to come out and land their big one liners right away. They're fun to watch.

The charity screening of "Argo" benefitted Children Mending Hearts and the Eastern Congo Initiative, which Affleck founded in 2009.

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'Argo' Charity Screening
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