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Intelligence professionals to weigh in on 'Argo' at Mercyhurst screening

Posted on Friday, January 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Ben Affleck stars in Argo

The academy has spoken, and the Iranian hostage drama “Argo” nabbed seven Oscar nominations, including best picture.

See what the buzz is about when Mercyhurst University screens “Argo” at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at the Taylor Little Theater. The film is part of the Maria J. Langer Film Series presented by the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture.

The 7:15 p.m. showing will be followed by a panel discussion featuring three highly esteemed intelligence professionals – all with ties to Mercyhurst. James Breckenridge, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst, formerly served as the course director for the World History program at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Arthur Mills, assistant professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst, served across the globe as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer for 22 years.

The third panelist, David Martine, is a former adjunct professor of counterintelligence at Mercyhurst and is an experienced senior intelligence and law enforcement expert with a 30-year career in the CIA and FBI.

Based on true events, “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis – the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On Nov. 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage.

But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country with a plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.

“It’s a terrific film,” Breckenridge said. “It keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. It makes for a good story – and the fact that it’s true makes it even better.”

Since the hostage crisis happened 33 years ago, Breckenridge noted it will be particularly interesting to hear what younger generations have to add to the panel discussion after the film. He said he looks forward to providing historical context to the amazing rescue that took place in an era without today’s sophisticated communication technology.

“When I first saw it in the theater, everyone stood up and clapped when it was finished,” Breckenridge said. “It’s that good.”

Since the Oscar nominations put “Argo” in the spotlight, it is recommended that audience members purchase tickets early to secure a seat to this highly anticipated film and panel discussion. Cost is $6 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, $4 for President’s Cardholders and free for Mercyhurst students (with ID). Tickets can be purchased by calling 814-824-3000 or by visiting miac.mercyhurst.edu.


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