Argo premiere event in D.C. a 'Canada love-in' and public diplomacy win

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - A screening and reception for the Hollywood film "Argo" at the Canadian embassy in Washington last fall was such a hot ticket, people complained afterwards about not getting invited.

The star-studded, $23,000 affair appeared to be well worth it for film execs and embassy officials, who considered the event a success both for public diplomacy and marketing.

"Argo", which spotlights the CIA's role in the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, heads into this weekend's Academy Awards with seven nominations, including best film.

But the movie has attracted criticism in some quarters for appearing to play down the role Canadians played in securing the release of six American hostages.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show Time Warner, which produced the film, considered the October event in D.C. a "Canada love-in" that helped mitigate some of that bad press.

From Canada's perspective, it was a successful effort to highlight Canada-U.S. relations that included celebrity guests and high-ranking government officials — "big scores," in the words of embassy staff.