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Months After The Brutal Murder Of The Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, His Death Is Still Shaking Up American Foreign Policy, Ethan Hawke Talks About His Directorial Debut And His Acting Profession; Nadine Labaki Talks About "Capernaum." Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 4, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
Months after the brutal murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his death is still shaking up American foreign policy. I speak to al Qaeda
expert and Khashoggi's friend Lawrence Wright. And to the former FBI agent Ali Soufan.
Then, it's been a busy year for actor, Ethan Hawke, who went behind the cameras as writer and director of the country music biofilm, "Blaze."
And a child sues his own parents for bringing him into this world. The story and the reality behind the Oscar-nominated foreign film, "Capernaum."
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where we're bringing you up to date with some of our important recent stories.
AMANPOUR: A team of United Nations experts has now arrived in Turkey to investigate the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on
October 2nd, but the Saudis have not given them permission to enter their consulate in Istanbul or speak with authorities there.
Meanwhile, the trial of 11 men accused of Khashoggi's murder is underway in Riyadh, as the Saudi government continues to claim that Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman had nothing to do with the assassination.
And this all plays out as an alliance of Republican and Democratic senators push a resolution to end the U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia's Civil War
in Yemen. Motivated by the devastating humanitarian consequences of the fighting there, as well as lingering anger with the Saudi regime over the
A hundred days after Jamal's murder, I spoke with two people who knew him well, and who knew about his struggles with the Saudi government,
journalist and author, Lawrence Wright was Khashoggi his close friend. His Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Looming Tower" is widely considered the
definitive account of events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, and security analyst Ali Soufan played a key role in that account for his crucial
contribution to the investigation and his interrogation of al Qaeda suspects.
When I spoke to them, Soufan and Wright were both attending a bipartisan event in Congress, which marked those hundred days since Jamal's murder and
LAWRENCE WRIGHT, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR, "THE LOOMING TOWER": Thank you, Christiane.
ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to get to the specifics of the event that is being hosted in Congress behind you, a bipartisan event. But to that end
and given the unbelievable murder, the dismemberment, the savage treatment of a journalist working for an American newspaper by an allied government,
what did you make of the focus of Secretary Pompeo's speech in Cairo today?
Larry, you were a friend of Jamal's, you first.
WRIGHT: Well, what I was thinking when I was reading through Pompeo's speech is how much faith Jamal had in American policy much more than I do
sometimes. He believed that America needed to have a strong presence in the Middle East. And yet, what -- our presence has been so wavering. I
don't think we've ever had a more volatile and uncertain policy in the region than we do right now and I don't think that the Secretary's speech
has changed any of that.
AMANPOUR: And, Ali, I mean, you have been right at the heart of the sort of geopolitics of all of this inside the F.B.I. and outside doing your
security work, what do you make of Secretary Pompeo, I mean, kind of departing with traditional American speech in foreign lands never once
mentioning human rights, never once mentioning political pluralism and tolerance, only mentioning democracy once and that in relation to quote,
"Iraq's thriving democracy"?
SOUFAN: It's a sad day. And frankly, you know, I agree actually with one thing the Secretary said today that, one, America retreat, chaos follows,
and that's very true. And we are basically witnessing when America tweets also, chaos follows, and that's unfortunate what we see today in the Middle
East, with the President's tweet about Syria that resulted with Secretary Mattis leaving.
SOUFAN: I think there's a lot of confusion in the region this is why Secretary Pompeo went to the Middle East to tell our allies and friends and
partners who are very anxious about our Syria policy, that the President of the United States basically does not speak for the United States, but he
speaks for the President of the United States amid this confusion for our strategy and our policy in the Middle East.
We see five of the countries, for example, that Secretary Pompeo is visiting do not have ambassadors. Two years later of the Trump
administration and still we don't have any ambassadors in these important countries. You know, we have 40 vacant ambassadorship still around the
world, the number two most senior position in the State Department that oversees the Middle East and the Near East do not -- are still vacant and
we don't have assistant secretaries for these positions.
So, I think, you know, with all the respect to Secretary Pompeo before we start pointing the finger at President Obama, we need to look at our own
policy in the Middle East, a policy that is still supporting the atrocity in Yemen, the U.N. and the U.N. Secretary General declared Yemen to be the
worst humanitarian disaster in the world today, you know, support of authoritarian regimes as, you know, you've seen he didn't mention anything
Today is 100-day anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi and not one word was mentioned about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. You know, a journalist was
dismembered and it seems that, you know, the Secretary of State and the President are not really in to getting real accountability for what
AMANPOUR: Well, let's --
SOUFAN: So, I think we are a force of good as the Secretary said, but I think we really need to basically show it with action not with words.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me then ask you, Larry, what do you expect to be showing with action and maybe some words in this event that's going to
happen, you know, on Capitol Hill? What is the actual, you know, bigger point to marking these 100 days?
WRIGHT: Well, Jamal Khashoggi was just one of 53 journalists around the world who was murdered last year, a sharp spike from what has been
previously. And, you know, this is a -- these are forces of repression that we're seeing around the globe that are trying to create an
intimidation of freedom of speech, and Jamal was one person who is not afraid to speak and that's what got him killed.
What we've done today is that we've assembled a bipartisan coalition in both chambers of Congress and we're really proud of the fact that our
lawmakers from both parties have stepped up and raised their voices. And also, we have journalistic groups that are represented, human rights
activists and a number of friends of Jamal's. I was just one of many. Almost every reporter who wanted to write seriously about the Middle East
had to spend some time with Jamal at some point in his career.
AMANPOUR: And I just want to point out that you did write a very heartfelt piece in "The New Yorker Today" about him and your views. And one of the
lines you write is, "He," Jamal, " ... embodied the qualities of truth and justice that America at its best represents. And we will thank him for
Again, you know, Secretary Pompeo and this administration, have they stepped up to the plate to the extent required by an American
administration that stands this country for human rights and democracy and the First Amendment and for the free press? What more needs to be said
about, you know, Saudi Arabia or about the murder of Jamal and the dismemberment? Let's not forget what happened to him.
WRIGHT: Right, right. If, you know, in these 53 murders that we're referencing, some few of them have -- had anyone held accountable for their
murder and Jamal is just one of many. But if his murder is not held accountable then who is safe and what other freedoms would be compromised
in the spread of repression? I think he is a symbol. He is a martyr, but let's also try to hold somebody accountable for this murder.
AMANPOUR: And I want to get back to you, Ali, on the issue of ISIS and terrorists and insurgents because the administration seems to kind of been
saying it both ways, one that we've defeated ISIS, but the Pentagon says something different that actually, yes, it's on the back foot, yes, it's
been routed from Raqqa and Mosul but it's not gone, it's still there. Just what do you know about the presence of ISIS still? And then I want to play
something that the Secretary said about that fight.
SOUFAN: You know, the areas that ISIS control are diminished, but ISIS as a threat still exist. Remember, you know, two years ago, three years ago
before the Syrian war what became ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Iraq or the Islamic State in Iraq were just some jihadists in the western deserts of Iraq but
they were able to survive and they were able to create ISIS later on.
The threat of extremism today, the threats of jihadi extremism is all over the Middle East, we can see it from Yemen, we see it from Somalia, the
Sahel Region. We see it in Iraq and Syria. This battle is still at the beginning. You know, I'm afraid that, you know, Al-Qaeda, for example,
after 9/11 was not as strong as Al-Qaeda today and its ability to control areas and recruit and rebuild the network.
And I fear that the same thing is going to happen with ISIS. Many of the fighters who fought with ISIS are still alive, some of them went to
different locations, some of them are still in the mountains or in the deserts of Iraq and Syria. So, we should not trust our laurel. I think we
need to focus on this battle and keep our eyes on the prize here.
Unfortunately, declaring a victory like this and packing and leaving is just endangering the region, endangering the world and endangering our own
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, what message do you think this little of Pompeo's speech sent? It's quite confusing, I think, about what the U.S.
is doing in Syria and why. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me be clear, America will not retreat until the terror fight is over. We will labor tirelessly alongside
you to defeat ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other jihadists that threaten our security and yours.
President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria. We always do and now is the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I don't know whether you see an inherent contradiction there or not, we will not give up until the fight is over but we're coming home.
I'm not sure I understand it.
SOUFAN: Yes, absolutely. This is just another indication, Christiane, of what's happening with this administration. There is a big confusion about
what, you know, the Pentagon wants, what the CIA wants, what even the professionals in the State Department wants and what the President tweets
about. And I think the President, you know, wanted the troops to leave Syria, fine and dandy, he is the Commander-in-Chief, he can order that, but
there is a lot of strategic and political and diplomatic implications for this.
And this is why the Secretary is visiting the Middle East to tell people, look, even though we're pulling out but we're really not pulling out. So,
this is just going to create more confusion, which will lead to less U.S. leadership in the region.
Today, the U.S. is not leading in the Middle East, we're not leading in Europe, we're not leading in Asia. And unfortunately, we're confusing our
enemies and allies and partners and our enemies are all happy.
AMANPOUR: Well, Larry, the trial of about 11 suspects has started in Riyadh, the suspects who the government said were responsible for the
murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. And potentially, they say a handful -- five of them could face the death penalty.
Now, the State Department basically says or at least a senior State Department official says, that the United States does not believe the Saudi
version of Khashoggi's killing has hit the threshold of credibility. What do you think? Because the State Department says that Secretary Pompeo will
very, very robustly demand accountability, you know, when he meets with the Royal Family in Riyadh this week. What do you think is the likely outcome
of those talks and the flavor of those talks?
WRIGHT: I'm not optimistic. I think that, you know, the administration has shown itself to be far more accommodating to the -- let me just say, to
Mohammed bin Salman. I think that people -- who tend -- in this administration tend to personify Saudi Arabia with Mohammed bin Salman, we
don't want to offend the Saudis.
But the Saudis are weakened by this Crown Prince. He is culpable not just for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but for the war in Yemen, for the
abduction of a Lebanese Prime Minister, for, you know, the shakedown of you know, businessmen and one person apparently tortured and killed in the Ritz
This -- you know, these are actions that are far outside the boundary even before Jamal was murdered. We -- you know, we were accommodating this
irrational actor. And if we are a true friend of Saudi Arabia, we have to hold that country accountable and they have to hold the person that made
these decisions accountable.
AMANPOUR: Well, of course, the Saudis deny all of those issues and they say they've taken those responsibility and those are the people who are on
trial. But it caused many people to believe that this could never have happened without MBS's sign off or even his direct order.
So, Ali, I mean you've been in the room with the terrorist suspects, you were in the room with, you know, the Saudis who committed 9/11, some of
them or rather, you know, some of the Saudis who were involved in Al-Qaeda.
What should the policy be? The United States has a relationship, a key relationship with Saudi Arabia and yet this awful thing has happened and
many of the other things. What should the policy be at this particular time?
SOUFAN: I think at this particular time we need to hold the Saudi government and those responsible today in the Saudi government accountable
for their actions, for their actions with Jamal Khashoggi, for their actions in Yemen and so forth.
Yes, Saudi Arabia is an important partner and important ally to the United States but they are important partner an ally to the West and to the U.S.
if they play a role in the region, a productive role in the region. Unfortunately, the role that they play today is not productive in any way,
shape or form.
King Salman had the opportunity to choose between the stability of Saudi Arabia and his son. Unfortunately, he chose his son. A weak Saudi Arabia
does not help our policy in the region. A weak Saudi Arabia, for example, does not help us to contain Iran or to follow up with the peace between the
Arab and the Israelis, you know, a weak Saudi Arabia create more divisions in the region as we see, even the Gulf States are divided among each other
with the embargo in Qatar, for example.
I think what we need to do is we need to lead in the Middle East and when we lead people will follow. And the leadership has to begin by standing up
for our values, standing up for our principles, standing up for our, you know, constitutional issues that we believe in and work with our allies on,
you know, a policy, a productive policy in the Middle East that can unify the good people, the modern people in the region against the forces of evil
SOUFAN: Unfortunately, we cannot do that when Saudi Arabia and the leader of Saudi Arabia kind of implicated to be part of the forces of tyranny and
AMANPOUR: Well, this is not what the Secretary of State said today. He obviously hopes, and this is a big part of his trip and of the
administration's new alignment, to push back, obviously, on Obama's engagement with Iran, you know, that they've pulled out of the Iran nuclear
deal. But this is what he said about getting Saudi Arabia and others on board to continue pushing back against Iran and containing Iran. This is
what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: We fostered a common understanding with our allies of the need to counteract the Iran regimes revolutionary agenda. Countries can
increasingly understand that we must confront the Ayatollahs, not coddle them. Nations are rallying to our side to confront the regime like never
before. Egypt, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan have all been instrumental in thwarting Iran's efforts to evade sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you make of that? I mean, Larry, let me just ask you. I mean, do you see, you know, sort of the laying the table, setting the
table for potentially another military adventure this time against Iran?
WRIGHT: Oh, it could easily be. You know, the -- but the flaw in this logic that the Secretary is laying out is that there's only one country in
the region that is a violation -- a violator of human rights. It's a problem across the region, it always has been. And we have to we have a
standard that we require of all countries, our enemies and our allies.
And because we've been hypocritical about it in the past, people don't believe we have those values, and it's one of the reasons that we want to
honor Jamal Khashoggi is just, you know, he reminds us of the values that we do enshrine in this country and freedom of expression and freedom of
press at the peak of it. You don't find that in either of the countries that the Secretary is referencing.
AMANPOUR: And interestingly and you point out, and many of us have pointed out that Jamal never called himself a dissident. He supported his country,
he was a patriot, but he called out when he thought that, you know, the civil rights, human rights and all those things were going -- you know,
were under the dire attack.
So, I guess, you know, finally to both of you, very briefly, what do you think the lasting impact of his murder will be? Will it continue to be
held up as a marker beyond which, you know, civilized people cannot go and hold nations there, including Saudi Arabia, to account?
SOUFAN: Go ahead, Larry.
WRIGHT: I would hope that would be true. But, you know, when Jamal came to the United States and began writing for "The Washington Post," he says,
I'm raising my voice because there are so many who cannot speak. And now, he cannot speak either.
Repression is the force that tries to silence voices like his. And, you know, we would like to think that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi will
embolden other reporters and other writers to speak out more freely. But the truth is, one critical voice has been lost. Will it be replaced?
That's yet to be shown, you know.
SOUFAN: I think on the 100th-day of his murder, many people in Congress from across the aisle, many human rights organizations and journalists
getting together on Capitol Hill today, we are getting amazing support for the event at 5:00 on the Hill. And I'm telling you, Christiane, this is
going to be only the beginning, you know, 500 days, 1,000 days.
Jamal Khashoggi became a symbol. He became a symbol against injustice, a symbol of what's happening to journalists everywhere around the world. And
this is a very important fight to take on because freedom of press is extremely important, it's essential for who we are as people. And if it
goes, all our freedoms will follow.
So, this is a battle that so many people in Congress, so many people in the U.S. government, so many people in the press and human rights organizations
are willing to take and this is just a remembrance, this is not a memorial, we don't even have a body to do a memorial for Jamal.
So, so this is not a remembrance -- this is just a remembrance, so we're going to continue to fight.
AMANPOUR: Well, fighting words. Thank you both very much for joining us. Ali Soufan, Lawrence Wright, thank you for being with us this evening.
WRIGHT: My pleasure.
SOUFAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now Among his many and very talented Larry Wright is also a keyboard player for a blues band based in Austin, Texas. It's known as
WhoDo, which brings us somewhat tangentially to another Austin based blues musician named, Blaze Foley. A much loved country artist whose tragic life
and death are the subject of an unconventional biographical movie called, "Blaze," which was written and directed by my next guest, Ethan Hawke.
Hawke is a creative talent with the looks of the mainstream Hollywood star and the credits of an arthouse icon. He gravitates towards ambitious roles
that range from the "Before Sunrise" trilogy to the inevitable "Boyhood," where filming took place over the course of 12 years.
When I spoke to him, he told me that with "Blaze," he challenged himself to reinvent the way movies about music are made.
AMANPOUR: Ethan Hawke, welcome to the program. You've got this film, "Blaze" out. It is focusing on a musician who hasn't sought or wanted
traditional sort of mainstream fame.
ETHAN HAWKE, DIRECTOR, "BLAZE": Right. Well, he certainly didn't get it. I think part of my idea was I love music movies. I love them. But almost
every one you ever see is about a musician who is wildly famous and it inevitably becomes about the trials of fame. Right? That's what the
subject of it is.
And every musician I've ever met, most of them are met with absolute indifference. Like most of the actors I've met, like most of the directors
I've met. And if -- I thought Blaze Foley's story is beautiful and probably a better lens to a better insight into a meaningful, artistic life
than telling the story of Ray Charles or Johnny Cash or Chet Baker or all the other famous musicians.
AMANPOUR: So on that note, we're going to play a clip.
AMANPOUR: And then I want to talk to you about what he says there, but also about what you've alluded to, the meaning of success, the search for
success and what it means to different people.
HAWKE: Right. Right.
AMANPOUR: Let's just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALIA SHAWKEAT, "SYBIL", BLAZE: So you're going to be a big country star like Roger Miller? No?
BEN DICKEY, "BLAZE FOLEY", BLAZE: I don't want to be a star. I want to be a legend.
SHAWKEAT: Well what's the -- what's the difference that would be?
FOLEY: Well, stars burn out because they shine for themselves. Look at me shine. Look at me glow. I'm amazing. Legend last forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he basically said a legend lasts forever. It is actually quite a profound take on the notion of success because it doesn't follow
the normal sort of beginning, middle and the end. What made you want to explore that notion of -- I mean, some have said, could it be a little
self-referential? In other words, you yourself have not gone the blockbuster Hollywood route. Right?
AMANPOUR: Deliberately. You've returned to indie and arthouse.
HAWKE: There's a great Tolstoy quote, that he said that his brother was the true talent of the family, he just lacked the necessary bad personality
defects that one needs to be successful. But now, I -- I don't necessarily buy into that. I think a lot of people in the arts can have an allergy
towards the necessary falseness it takes to be out here selling yourself. Right?
AMANPOUR: Do you have that allergy?
HAWKE: Look, I'm on TV right now, right? So I'm aware of the allergy. And you -- some people, you could call that a struggle for authenticity or
you could call it self-sabotage. You know, sometimes it's okay to sell your art. Right? I mean -- and so it's -- it's a razor's edge an
intelligent person tries to walk.
AMANPOUR: You've called success kind of a sort of a formaldehyde. I mean, for me in school, in my Biology lessons, formaldehyde is something that
HAWKE: Yes, it keeps your stagnant.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So it keeps you stagnant.
HAWKE: The second you're successful at something, you don't want to change, right? But to be alive, you've got to change. But as soon as
people start handing you money and telling you you're important and telling you you're fabulous for being this thing, well you better not grow because
maybe you'd screw it up.
But I often -- you often seen people in their -- whenever they experience success -- look, I was -- I've been watching this since I was a little kid,
right, and I wanted to stay alive. A lot of the people who started acting when I did, you know, they lose their way.
And a lot of it is because if you get too much attention or told you're special and you believe it, and for a second you forget that everyone is
special, right, which is very easy to do when you're 23 or 24 or 25, right, but it can throw the whole trajectory of your life off because you've got
to grow and you've got to change and --
AMANPOUR: And take risks and do different things. Can I just play a clip from "Dead Poets Society?" Let's just play this.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: Say the first thing that pops into your head even if it's total gibberish.
HAWKE: A sweaty-toothed madman.
WILLIAMS: Good God boy, there's a poet in you after all. There, close your eyes, close your eyes, close them. Now describe what you see.
HAWKE: I closed my eyes --
HAWKE: And this image floats beside me.
WILLIAMS: A sweaty-toothed madman.
HAWKE: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
WILLIAMS: Oh, that's excellent. Now give him action. Make him do something.
HAWKE: His hands reach out and choke me.
WILLIAMS: That's excellent, wonderful, wonderful.
HAWKE: And all the time he's mumbling.
WILLIAMS: What's he mumbling?
HAWKE: Mumbling truth, truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
WILLIAMS: Forget them, forget them. Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
HAWKE: You push it, stretch it. It will never be enough. You kick at it, beat it. It will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying
to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know, you've obviously, lived that and you've seen it many times, but I want you looking at it intently just now. All these years
later, what does it mean to you? I mean, it was your breakthrough, obviously.
HAWKE: It was. It was the first day I ever acted. I mean, I'd acted before, but I hadn't lost myself in a performance, and it's an amazing
feeling. You know, people love to make acting about, oh, isn't she special? Isn't he beautiful? Isn't he wonderful? And, you know, you see
them on an award show or something and it seems like it becomes a celebration of self.
But acting at its best, at its most true, I mean, the flame that most of who do it are chasing is losing yourself, right? Being in service of a
story other than your own story and feeling connection and realizing that your life is not so unique, that you share the most intimate feelings with
other people, and that's profound.
And I had it with Robin, and it's not a joke. You know, you ask me about formaldehyde or something, these things become little, cute expressions
people say on TV and stuff, but it's life and death a lot of times, you know?
It's like - you know, Robin's not alive - I mean, it's very ...
AMANPOUR: And I can see you getting emotional and I can see your eyes, and, you know, we're all shocked that he is not alive anymore. We are all
shocked that our friend, Anthony Bourdain is not alive anymore.
AMANPOUR: We're all shocked by these larger than life, massive creative geniuses who somehow for whatever reason can't finish the whole road or at
least take their own lives.
HAWKE: Because life is hard, you know, and it's supposed to be hard. And everybody wants it not to be hard or they want it to be easy, or the want
it to be about making money or something that you can graph, right? They don't want to be inner journey that is shared, communal inner journey,
which is kind of mysterious how that could be true. It could be both personal and collective, but certainly mysterious.
But the truth about -- from my experience -- about life is so much more mysterious than anybody wants it to be, and that's very hard to let go of.
And when we see people who have everything we want be so sad, it's very confusing.
AMANPOUR: It is actually very, very confusing, and I think you just hit the nail on the head there because to us it looks like they have everything
that they want or that we expect them to want.
HAWKE: Yes, and you know what? That's why I actually know that we're talking about it. That's why the arts are valuable to me. And why -- one
of the things that is happening in our culture, see, for me, like medicine is incredibly important and politics are incredibly important. They are
all part of -- root systems.
And the arts kind of represent our mental health as a culture, and how the freedom of expression and the -- it's very strange how in our current
environment how little I see the arts is respected.
There's just this huge priority put on making money. We talk about it all the time. It is non-stop and if you think that doesn't -- isn't absorbed
by young people, if we prioritize wisdom, spiritual development, taking care of each other. You know, if we said thank you for your service to our
military men and to teachers, you know, and to police officers.
And if we said thank you to each other all the time, you know, there would be a profound healing that would happen as opposed to prioritizing certain
AMANPOUR: So that leads me into the other big au revoir that you've had just recently. "First Reformed."
HAWKE: Yes, right.
AMANPOUR: You did this amazing film and it touches on some of what you've just talked about because it's about you know a priest and there is an
extremist quality of it, and it is really kind of tied in to what we are seeing in our politics play out right now.
We see conservativism, evangelism. Explain to me whether you also saw that sort of connection or coincidence?
HAWKE: Oftentimes in movies, we see people of the religious community either, they either play some evil priest, right or they play some
But you rarely are given an opportunity to explore a character who is trying to understand their faith and willing and intelligent enough to
challenge their faith. Right? The brittle break, right? The supple bend.
And I was very grateful for the opportunity to play a serious character. You know, he gets put in an extreme situation. He has lost his son. He is
counseling another young man, that does not go the way that he wants, and his faith is tested.
You know, I think that there's something about the movie, that is the scream, I mean, it's the one I relate to. It is when you look at your
religious community, and you don't see leadership. Where are we with the environment? Where are we with God?
AMANPOUR: Because that's the central element obviously of your film.
HAWKE: Where is -- does the religious community really think, you know, the people at Standing Rock don't deserve, you know, these Native American
community that is calling out for their rise for our Earth? That the religious community going to side with big business?
We all know, like, if that were a movie, we all know who was the good guy and how is the bad guy, right? And yet, we still don't do anything. So we
don't see leadership there. We don't see leadership in our political front. And yet, most of us don't know what to do. We don't feel educated
enough, knowledgeable enough, powerful enough to express ourselves or know what to do. We are worried about our own kids, right?
So it's like the scream that I think the movie is about, it is a priest going -- he did a crime.
AMANPOUR: And you spoke about this to another interview by raising Martin Luther King, saying, "The Church must be reminded that it is not the master
or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide to the critic of the state and never its tool. If the
church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club, without moral or spiritual authority."
HAWKE: Come on, you know. We get hit with "I Have a Dream" all the time. And you read something like that and go, oh wow, there is a reason why
Martin Luther King is famous. There's a reason why there's a Boulevard named after him in every city of this Union, you know. There's a lot to be
read about him.
And I think that's true. You know, this -- it is again, about my kind of feelings about money. You know, the Christian faith was born out of
poverty, born to take care of impoverished. It is about the value of powerlessness, you know.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, talks about that. Right? Not about power over people, not about winning. Not you know --
AMANPOUR: You were raised quite religious.
HAWKE: Yes, I was.
AMANPOUR: By a single mom.
HAWKE: Well, my father and my mother are both extremely religious. Yes, and my stepfather was extremely religious.
AMANPOUR: What did it mean to you, given the context of the life we are living right now, the political and social environment? You had a strong
AMANPOUR: A mother, who you're very close to.
AMANPOUR: We're in the middle of the #MeToo Movement. Your former wife, Uma Thurman made a lot of headlines, talking about what she alleged Harvey
Weinstein did to her and of course, he then had his, you know, sort of description of what he had done, that yes, he made a past at her. She said
he really tried to come on hard and was you know -- let me rad it actually.
So your former wife, Uma Thurman told "The New York Times" about Harvey Weinstein, "He pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried
to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn't actually put his back into it and forced me. You're like an animal
wriggling away like a lizard."
I mean, this is your former wife. What did you feel when you saw -- did you know that that was going on at the time? And have you come across this
kind, I mean --
HAWKE: I would venture to say that every serious man over 40 would probably tell you, almost all my female friends that I have been close
enough to that they would share something like that with me, have shared a story like that and that --
AMANPOUR: It is that prevalent.
HAWKE: I think it is that prevalent. I think it is that -- I think my first love, my high school sweetheart. She has stories like that. My
college sweetheart has stories like that. When I was -- you know, I was in a theater. I'm a bohemian, right?
And the halls and dressing rooms are full of that. And so are the halls of every employment place, and I think that's what is happening right now.
Something has opened up. I think it has, you know, there is a push this way and a pull that way to open something up. Revolutions are always
And there's a revolution of thought that is happening where men are being held accountable, and men are being shamed. And I really believe that good
things are going to come from it. You know, it's hard and it's painful and it is painful to talk about. I don't like hearing you read that.
You know, nobody likes hearing, but it's happening all the time. And until, like I said before, about the arts being healthy, collective
cautiousness and a freedom of expression, until you shine a light in all of those dark places, you can't really talk about our healing. Right?
AMANPOUR: You've indicated that you still get a sense of anxiety from the so-called freelance nature of this business, a certain amount of stage
fright. I really interested about that. Why?
HAWKE: Well, I don't -- the answer, I guess is that I don't think most people are nervous enough. This is one life and there's a lot to be
nervous. There's a lot to put thought into. And there's something to be said for confidence. Confidence is a wonderful thing. And it's very
fragile for most of us, and you need to preserve it and take care of it and all that stuff.
But you could make a case to be made that anxiety can sharpen our sword. I remember when I was 21, I did my -- I did my Broadway debut. This is a
true story. Right?
I remember walking on stage. It was completely dark. The light is out there, sold out house on Broadway. I thought it was funny, I'm not nervous
at all. Yes, I completely confident.
Well, I should have been nervous. You know, and it has taken me 30 years to learn that there's a lot to be nervous about and there's nothing to fear
in being nervous or whatever.
The truth is your friend, right? You know, it's a Thomas Merton line that my mother taught me that you don't need to protect the truth. You need to
live in the truth, and it will protect you. And that's what makes -- you know, I'm nervous on this show about stepping out of my own truth. It's
hard to be on this show.
AMANPOUR: You haven't been, have you?
HAWKE: I have made to feel uncomfortable?
AMANPOUR: Just now?
HAWKE: Yes. In more ways than you might be aware of and because --
AMANPOUR: Is that real?
HAWKE: Yes, I'm here for it. That's what I'm here for. It's your job. It's my job, too, you know. I'm here, promote a movie and share my art
with the world, and you know, it's a luxury task of sometimes -- a luxury tax, of sometimes having your words -- you get put in these positions.
We're trying to have an authentic conversation. But we're also trying to - - we can't pretend that we don't know there's a lot of people listening, right? Which is different than if it's two in the morning and we're
sitting there at the end of the night, you know, talking when we cannot be held accountable. When we can be free to make mistakes, right?
But on your show, I can't make a mistake. The stakes get higher, right? So I get nervous. But I'm trying to tell myself that that's okay.
AMANPOUR: And it is okay.
AMANPOUR: And you've been great.
HAWKE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Ethan Hawke. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Ethan Hawke's other recent film, "First Reformed" has been nominated for an Oscar. And now we turn to another very different movie.
Also Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film, and further evidence of cinema's power to transport us into the most diverse stories and worlds.
The movie is called "Capernaum."
It is set in modern day Lebanon and it tells the story of a little boy called Zain. He is a Syrian refugee. He is a street kid. A child
undocumented and unrecognized by society.
The filmmaker Nadine Labaki was haunted by the sight of children like Zain in cities all over the world, wondering what are their lives really like?
Who do they love? How do they live? These are profound questions coming at a time when hundreds of millions of children are displaced from their
homes. "Capernaum" won a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and since Hari Sreenivasan spoke to Nadine Labaki, news that "Capernaum" secured an
Academy Award nomination was announced.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNNI CORRESPONDENT: First, what's the film about?
NADINE LABAKI, LEBANESE FILM MAKER: In brief, the film is about a boy who sues his parents for giving him life and for bringing him into this world
that is not giving him any chance to survive or any tools to survive.
Symbolically, he doesn't have papers. He's not been registered. So symbolically, he's a nonexistent child, a child that is almost invisible
that we don't see.
SREENIVASAN: He's almost representing not just a forgotten individual, but a lost generation of kids. We have seen in this migration out of Syria and
also the global migration that is happening, what happens to these kids? There's no school. There's no prospect of a job.
LABAKI: They don't have the right to anything unfortunately. Yes, since the moment they are born, in a way, since the moment zero, they don't have
the right to anything because most of the time, unfortunately, these kids are not registered because it costs money to register a child. So it
starts from there.
The story takes place in Lebanon because this is what I know, this where I live. This is where I tell my story because this is something that I know
very well. But this is not only happening in Lebanon, this is happening almost in every big city of the world.
This "Capernaum" that we are talking about, Capernaum means chaos, it also means also chaos and miracles at the same time, and so this is the story of
any big city of the world right now, unfortunately.
SREENIVASAN: You were able to get into parts of the city that if I was a tourist, I'm never going to see.
SREENIVASAN: How did you get the buy-in from the neighborhood, from the street because a lot of times, people in dire straits, they say, "You know
what, I don't want you to show this side of my city or country."
LABAKI: It wasn't even a choice for me, it was sort of a duty. At some point, it was my duty to show it. Because this is a problem that is coming
- becoming almost part of our daily lives. The sight of children on the streets, children begging, children working, selling gum and carrying heavy
loads. Children who are deprived from their most basic rights.
These children are paying the highest price for our faults and our conflicts and our wars and our stupid decisions and stupid governments, and
failing systems. And so I thought it was my duty in a way to talk about it.
I was collaborating in this crime if I was going be to be silent, and I started researching and going to those places. You know, you imagine this
kid's life and his family but you don't know that behind the scenes really, where does this kid go to when he disappears around the corner and you
don't see him anymore, what is his life? Who is his family? What is his every day struggle? What is he feeling towards this injustice that he is
And it started like that, wanting to know more, going to those places, meeting children, talking to children and talking to their parents, because
I needed to understand also the point of view of the parents. And then talking to lawyers, to judges, trying to understand the point of view of
justice, going to courts. Trying to understand where is the failure? Where is the failure of the system?
SREENIVASAN: Let's take a look at a clip. One of the several clips you have from the courtroom scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. How old are you, Zain?
ZAIN, CHARACTER IN THE MOVIE "CAPERNAUM": [Speaking foreign language]. I don't know. Ask them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Your Honor, Zain has no birth certificate and has never been registered with the state and his
parents apparently don't know his exact date of birth. Here is the medical examiner's report that states that Zain was approximately 12 years old at
the time of the incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. So he's 12 years old?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Where do you live, Zain?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. Roumieh Prison for Juveniles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Arrested on June 15, you're serving your sentence. Do you know why?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. Because I stabbed a sonofabitch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. You stabbed someone?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. Yes, sonofabitch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Really? You're insisting? No laughing in court. What's all this fuss you've caused? On
TV and the media, your phone call from prison. Know why you're here?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Why?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. I want to sue my parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Why do you want to sue your parents?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. Because I was born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Tell me a little bit about Zain, the actor who plays him. We don't see as much in this particular scene. But it is a remarkable
performance by this young man.
LABAKI: He's a miracle boy. He is truly a miracle. Zain is a Syrian refugee. He's been living in Lebanon in very, very difficult circumstances
for the past eight years. He fled the war in Syria with his family, so he was living in one of those very difficult neighborhoods.
His situation was even more difficult than what you see in the film. The only difference is from the film is that Zain has loving parents.
SREENIVASAN: In real life now?
LABAKI: In real life, yes. In a way they knew how to love him. And Zain never went to school. So at the moment, when we were shooting the film, he
was 12. He didn't even know how to write his own name which is only --
SREENIVASAN: But he's quite smart.
LABAKI: Very smart. Very smart because Zain obviously, he learned in the school of life and the streets and this is where he learned everything.
This is where he had to be an adult to survive because he had to struggle every day to exist and when you see those kids fighting, when you see those
kids struggling with life, they're not kids anymore.
You understand it when you hear him talk and his foul language and his body language, Zain is smaller than his age because of malnutrition. He was 12,
you would think he's eight or nine maximum when you look at him.
He has these sad eyes that show -- that explain to you everything he's been through. It shows that his eyes have been witness to a lot of things, a
lot of abuse, a lot of mistreatment. He's seen other kids being mistreated and abused. He has seen his neighbors getting married at 11 or 12 years
old -- sold, I am not going to say getting married, they are actually sold under the excuse of marriage.
So he knows everything he is talking about in the film. He is those kids and he knew, he understood that he was in a sort of a mission that he was
becoming the voice of those voiceless kids he was representing. So this gave him also a lot of strength. It gave him -- we were all collaborating
in a way. We felt like a team and he was part of that mission.
SREENIVASAN: Is this why you chose the type of cast that you did? I mean, you were casting as you were shooting the film.
SREENIVASAN: And these are not professionals. There was not a casting agency, not an audition that went out.
LABAKI: Yes, the casting department was just amazing. They would go everywhere in Lebanon, go to the most dangerous and unfortunate places,
interview kids, interview the parents. Zain was found in the streets. He was playing next to his -- in his neighborhood and the casting director saw
him and interviewed him. As soon as I saw the interview, it was obvious two minutes into the interview that I had found him.
SREENIVASAN: So you're telling me that basically, their real life experiences started in forming your script.
SREENIVASAN: So what they have already lived through added a layer of authenticity to what you were trying to document.
LABAKI: All the time. Yes, absolutely. All the time. Of course, we had a very solid script to start with. Because it is impossible to improvise
if you don't know your material very well. So that's -- our script was our solid base. It was our starting point and our landing point every time in
But in the meantime, we are open to whatever life is going to give us also and to whatever the actors have to say or have to give or have to add.
I felt like I don't have the right to impose anything on them or any reality or anything I had imagined. When I was researching, I knew that I
have to draw in whatever I was seeing, that reality and then in a way, transpose it in the script.
I don't have a right to imagine that story. I have to be the vehicle for them to express themselves, for them to tell me their real story. So it
was a collaborating process the whole time.
SREENIVASAN: Another character in the film that was really quite a good performance was Rahil. Tell me a little bit about him.
LABAKI: Rahil is also -- she is from Eretria and she ended up in Lebanon, in very difficult circumstances. She lost her parents at a very young age.
She was an orphan when she was very, very young, she had to take care of her siblings. She had a very, very difficult life.
And then she ended up in Lebanon at some point and in Lebanon, also under the sponsorship system the situation is very difficult. It is almost like
modern slavery in a way. She had no papers, so she was living illegally because she wasn't obviously happy in the house with the employer she was
working with, so she decided --
SREENIVASAN: She was working as a maid?
LABAKI: Yes. Yes, most of them work as domestic workers in houses. And she was working at a house and she was not happy, so she left and she was a
runaway in a way. So she was living illegally in Lebanon.
When we met her, when the casting director saw her also and interviewed her. In the beginning, it was difficult because she was scared also who
are these people interviewing me. Why? I am in an illegal situation.
So it took time to build this trust relationship and you know, she's magic. I mean, you see her in the film. She is magic because she's been through
very difficult circumstances and she knows everything she is talking about in the film. She knows that suffering. She's been there. You don't need
to explain it. You don't need to act it in a way. She is that person.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [Speaking foreign language]. How many brothers and sister do you have?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. A lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [Speaking foreign language]. Do you miss them?
ZAIN: [Speaking foreign language]. I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: There's a certain universality here in the importance of papers, of identity. You can talk about it to a character that is a
refugee from Syria or Eretria or the undocumented that are living in the United States every day.
LABAKI: That was a very important theme in the film. If you -- if you analyze it, almost each one of the characters has the same problem for
different reasons. And I wanted really to talk about the absurdity of having to have to a paper to prove that you exist, where you are here, your
own flesh and blood, you exist. You really do exist. But you have to have this piece of paper and if you don't, you don't have the right to anything.
SREENIVASAN: There's no sugarcoating this film. I mean, it is a hard film to watch. That's the point. Is there anything that we can hope for
because you get out of this film and --
LABAKI: Thinking it is --
SREENIVASAN: Pretty bleak.
SREENIVASAN: I mean, not like you should make people feel good if it is not the truth, but what?
LABAKI: I think it's - you know, that's smile at the end of the film, the fact that Zain looks at you, this only time for the first time, looks at
you as a viewer in the eyes, it is a way of engaging with you and saying, you know, "I'm here, I exist. Look at me. Stop being oblivious."
We're not talking about hundreds of kids or thousands of kids. We're talking about millions of kids across the world. They say there's over 280
million children across the world in those situations. Children working to feed their families, children deprived from schools. Children hungry. And
this is what this look at the end of the film for me means. We have to look at the problem. We have to look at those children and we have to
acknowledge the problem.
Otherwise, we are on the verge of a big catastrophe. It is going to explode in our faces. These kids are very angry and one day they're going
to grow up.
SREENIVASAN: As a fallout from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the neighboring countries are picking up the brunt of this weight and their economies in
some ways can't handle it.
LABAKI: Yes, it is unimaginable to think that only ten countries in the world have you know, almost 60% of the burden of this crisis of the Syrian
refugee crisis. In Lebanon, one in six people is a Syrian refugee. In Jordan, one in 14. In Turkey there's 3.5 million refugees. It is really
the neighboring countries and unfortunately, they are in their own economic crisis.
Each one of those countries is struggling with their own economic situation. In Lebanon, when -- ever since we were kids in school, the
teacher used to tell us, you see that invisible dot on the map. This is Lebanon. This is your country. So this invisible dot on the map is
actually hosting in proportion with the population in Lebanon, it is hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. It is almost half the
population. This cannot be the burden of one or two or three countries. This is a shared responsibility.
SREENIVASAN: Nadine Labaki, thanks so much for joining us.
LABAKI: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: So best wishes to Nadine Labaki and Ethan Hawke. The Oscar ceremony will air on February 24th. But that is it for us, for now.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.