Susan Sarandon’s VIPER CLUB is Being Attacked by The Mother of The Slain Journalist That The Film is About

We recently saw the trailer for Susan Sarandon’s Viper Club and it was pretty intense. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and there was one person who found it to be a “very upsetting experience.” This person is Diane Foley who is the mother of James Foley. Foley was upset because the film seemed to copy her life without her knowledge, consent, or participation. There are a lot of similarities, but there are some spoilers for the film so be warned. Before we get into it, here’s the synopsis for the film:

“An emergency room nurse struggles to free her grown son, a journalist, from capture by a terrorist group. After running into roadblocks with agencies, she discovers a clandestine community of journalists and advocates who might be able to help her.”

Foley is a nurse and Sarandon’s character, “Helen,” is a nurse. Her son, James Foley, was a freelance journalist who was abducted while reporting in Syria in 2012 and whose brutal killing by the Islamic State was taped and broadcast around the world in August 2014. In Viper Club, Helen’s son, “Andy” (Julian Morris) is a freelance journalist who is abducted by the Islamic State while reporting in Syria and meets the same fate as James.

As Foley did after her son’s abduction, Helen tries in vain to navigate the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., to help secure his release. As with Foley, she’s bounced back and forth between multiple government agencies and told that she could face jail time for trying to raise a ransom to pay a terrorist group. And, like Foley, she is told not to talk about her son’s abduction.

Helen connects with a secret network of international journalists that exists in real life and was in touch with Foley, though Foley did not tap the network for ransom-raising purposes like the character did. (The film was originally named after the real group, but was changed after the group protested.)

Foley says even some of the film’s dialogue matches things she and her husband, John, have said.

Foley acknowledges there are embellishments and differences between the character Helen and herself. For one, Helen smokes and swears while Foley does not. Foley is also religious and married while Helen is neither. In fact, the type of nurse they are is different, too.

The director of Viper Club, Maryam Keshavarz, issued this statement while mentioning other journalists who met a similar fate, Daniel Pearl and Steven Sotloff.

We did a lot of research, read over 100 articles, saw a dozen documentaries, and [tried to] find a way to be very truthful to what these families went through … but have the freedom to weave in different themes that I was trying to examine.

Foley went on to press Google and YouTube as well seeing as how Viper Club will be on YouTube Premium after it leaves theaters. That eventually led to YouTube eventually offering $30,000 to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation which Foley runs. She rejected the offer, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want their help or their money though:

I would like Google, YouTube, the director, to make a generous donation to the training and the safety of freelance journalists, to the Foley Foundation that’s been named in Jim’s memory. That would be the right thing to do, to show that they care. If they’re going to use our story, without asking permission of anyone, the least they can do is make amends that way.

I personally think that Keshavarz should have reached out to these families. Considering the similarities, it is hard for me to believe Keshavarz didn’t have Foley in mind when making the film. Do you think a line was crossed?

Source: THR

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