Director Michael Bay and cast of ’13 Hours’ talk Benghazi
Hollywood is no stranger to controversy, so it’s no surprise that director Michael Bay’s newest explosion-filled blockbuster, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, has been greeted at the box office with a dose of skepticism and distaste by some audiences.
But 2016 is an election year so we had to ask ourselves if this film was released at this particular time strategically. Is Michael Bay trying to send voters a message?
Press Pass Latino reporter, Cachie Gonzalez sat in on the press conference for Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi in Miami and tried to find out.
Press Pass’D: Maziar Bahari on Rosewater and Gael Garcia Bernal
Bay and the rest of the cast could not stress it enough! They don’t want 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi to be viewed as a politically influenced film.
But it’s hard to view it as otherwise, especially in a time in which politicians dominate news headlines.
For the majority of last year, we heard countless accusations about what happened in Benghazi and I believe this movie came at just the right time. There’s been a lot of hearsay about what happened on that eventful night but who knows the truth better than the soldiers who were actually there.
Recently, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson slammed the film for being inaccurate and called it a “distortion” of what happened in Benghazi. However, when the soldiers involved were asked about the accuracy of the film, they were firm in their response on how faithful 13 Hours is to what occurred that night.
“The politicians just hijacked the story. And in the way they were doing it, to me, was just totally dishonoring the four Americans that died,” said Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the soldiers portrayed in the film, when he was asked why it was important to him for this story to be told to the world.
“To get the truth out there, we could have gone to FOX News, or something like that, or CNN, and just told it, but then it would have just gotten spun like they keep spinning everything else. So, we all got together and decided to put it down in a book, that way it can’t be spun.”
Actor John Krasinski, who stars in the film, was quick to say he thought he was pretty well versed on all things Benghazi. But that was before he read the book penned by the soldiers and shot this film.
“I admit I was one of those people who thought I knew everything I needed to know about Benghazi. I’m not a news junkie, but I watch the news, I read the news and I thought I knew everything there was. I actually felt pretty stupid when I read the book, how little I did know and that the story that was being told has actually never been brought up in the press.”
Watching Krasinski, who is best known for his comedic role in hit television series “The Office”, give life to such an intense character might be something new for us. However, he admits he was passionate about playing military man Jack Silva.
“I wanted to be a part of this in every single way. I come from a huge military family,” said Krasinski during the press conference. “So, for me, I’ve always wanted to do a movie like this, where I could experience and also shed some light on a glimmer of the sacrifices and courage that they live by every single day.”
Throughout the movie viewers get an inside look at what the soldiers went through that fateful night but towards the end of the film they also get a glimpse of “the other side”. One of the moments in the film that most came as a surprise to us was when locals were shown mourning over the dead bodies of the Libyan attackers.
Press Pass’D: “Cocaine Cowboys” make a Comeback in Puerto Rico
“It wasn’t in the script or the book,” said Bay. “But in doing all the research of what the Muslim religion is like, they pick up their dead right away, they bury them right away. So I said, ‘You know what? I have this idea’ because this is what happened. I just wanted to show how pointless this was.”
Pablo Schreiber, who took on the role of “Tanto”, was quick to defend the often criticized director by saying he liked the way Bay humanized Benghazi and enjoys that particular scene.
“I think it’s one of the things that I think Michael did in the movie that is just extraordinary. It’s not a zombie movie, in so far as these people are faceless, and identity-less, and so on. I’m really glad you singled that out, cause that’s actually one of my favorite moments in the movie,” said Schreiber.
“And I think it gives the movie a weight that it wouldn’t have otherwise. And for me, it really hammers home the idea that there were no winners in this. The cost of war is heavy. The fact is that I don’t think any of these guys who are up here, who were there, would consider themselves winners after that night.”
The main thing the soldiers want moviegoers to take away from this film is that Benghazi should not have a negative stigma attached to it.
“In Benghazi, a lot of positive things happened that night. The love for one another, brotherhood, the dealing with adversity, overcoming obstacles, the faith in each other; that was not what was being shown,” said Paronto.
“Because the truth wasn’t being told. I think what people, the ones that have read the book, and also the ones that see 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, when they walk out of that theater, they’re going to have a totally different view of what Benghazi is. That’s not the politics of it. People forget, over 24 lives were saved that night. It’s war, so people die. It happens, but a lot of great things came out of it. Benghazi should be looked at as a motivation, not as some negative connotation.”
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, is now showing in theaters nationwide.
Watch the trailer below: