American Cinematographer - December 2014 - 22

Production Slate

I

Strength From Within
By John Calhoun

Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski has worked with his share
of first-time directors, so he was unfazed by his initial conversation
with Jon Stewart about Rosewater. "I walked into his office at The
Daily Show one day and he said, 'What do you think about going to
Jordan during Ramadan in the middle of summer when it's 100
degrees with a first-time director who doesn't know what he's
doing?'" recalls Bukowski, who has been behind the camera for
similar teeth-cutting by the likes of Mark Pellington, Craig Lucas and
Oren Moverman, among others. "I said, 'Yeah, of course. That
sounds great.'"
Rosewater is the true story of Maziar Bahari (played here by
Gael García Bernal), an Iranian-born, London-based journalist
dispatched to Tehran to cover the 2009 elections and subsequent
demonstrations over the results. While there, he was interviewed for
a typically playful segment on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
Iranian officials did not get the joke - in particular, references during
the interview to Bahari being a spy. That appearance, combined with
some footage the journalist caught of a demonstrator being shot,
may have contributed to Bahari's nearly four-month detention and
sometimes-brutal interrogation in an Iranian prison.
22

December 2014

Based on Bahari's book Then They Came for Me (written
with Aimee Molloy), Rosewater's screenplay was penned by Stewart in an acknowledged gesture of expiation. The story is a timely
one in today's world, where journalists are increasingly caught in the
crossfire of global strife. Rosewater - named for the scent Bahari
comes to associate with his chief interrogator (played by Kim
Bodnia) - doesn't belabor any of this; it's a focused, occasionally
sardonic description of one man's harrowing and at times absurd
experience.
It was also done with very limited resources. "It was a lowbudget movie; we didn't have a lot of days to capture the film,"
says Bukowski. "I was allowed to bring one person with me, and
that choice is always my focus puller, Michael Burke, because I feel
like I could do almost everything else if push came to shove, but I
can't get the film in focus!" Since the bulk of his Jordanian crew
was inexperienced, the director of photography did indeed find
himself doing most everything else - including operating the
camera, as is his wont.
"As a cinematographer, you have a job to deliver, and you
have a certain standard you want to meet," Bukowski continues.
"At the same time you have to be realistic about the resources in
your hands. You have to go back to the drawing board and say,
'How do I design this film in a way that it can actually be made?' It

American Cinematographer

Rosewater photos by Laith Majali and Nasser Kalaji, courtesy of Open Road Films.

During the 2009
elections in
Tehran, journalist
Maziar Bahari
(Gael García
Bernal) was
detained and
sometimes
brutally
interrogated for
nearly four
months in an
Iranian prison.
His account
comes to life in
the feature
Rosewater.



American Cinematographer - December 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - December 2014

Contents
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - 1
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - 2
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - Contents
American Cinematographer - December 2014 - 4
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