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Interview with International Communities Organization Middle East Director and "The Negotiator: Freeing Schalit from Hamas" Author Gershon Baskin; Interview with International Criminal Court Former Prosecutor and Argentina's Trial of the Juntas Deputy Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo; Interview with "Cassandro," "Stamped From the Beginning" and "The Super Models" Director Roger Ross Williams. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 22, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

Finally, a breakthrough. Israel and Hamas agree on a four-day truce to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Veteran negotiator

Gershon Baskin joins me next.

Fairness and justice in war. I speak to founding international criminal court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, and I get his take on Argentina's

controversial president-elect.

Then, stamped from the beginning, Michel Martin asked director Roger Ross Williams about his new documentary exploring the roots of racism in


And finally, the music and life lessons of the legendary Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Well, now that both Israel and Hamas signed off on a hostage deal, we are learning more about the details. An Israeli official tells us the fighting

is set to pause beginning 10:00 a.m. local time, 3:00 in the morning New York time Thursday.

Now, if all goes according to plan, at least 50 hostages held by Hamas will be released in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners currently in

Israeli jails.

Much needed humanitarian relief will come to Gaza. The pause could potentially last longer, with an extra day added for each additional 10

Israeli captives released.

The hostages' families face an excruciating week, not knowing whether their loved ones will be among those released. Here's Abby On, who has three

family members held by Hamas.


ABBY ON, RELATIVES HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: This is what you think about if your eyes close at night and when you wake up in the morning, and it's all

consuming. It is something that we are not processing. We're just living through until every one of these hostages are home and our soldiers are



GOLODRYGA: For displaced Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the pause can't come soon enough.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We hope the ceasefire will be good. We have been waiting for the ceasefire. We have been hoping for it.

We pray for peace for all these people so we can be done with these challenges we are facing.


GOLODRYGA: But both sides are clear, this is not a ceasefire. Once the pause is over, the fighting continues. Gershon Baskin is a veteran hostage

negotiator familiar with all of the players in this breakthrough deal. He played a prominent role in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in

2011. And he joins us now. Gershon, welcome to the program.

You've become a regular now, it gives us a sense of the crisis at hand. But, breakthrough, finally. First, your reaction to this deal.


Well, this was the first good day we've had since the beginning of the war on October 7th. And all things considered, I think it's a pretty good deal.

It's one that I proposed on the second or third day of the war and passed it over to the Israelis and Hamas people, the Qatari and the Egyptians. I

talked about a bigger deal, in fact, of all the women and all the children in exchange for the women and minor prisoners in Israel.

But this is a good start. 50 is a good number to begin with. It'll happen in four days. And as you said, it can be extended to five days or six or

seven or eight. I think our goal should be to get all the civilian hostages out of Gaza. The people of Palestine and Gaza are getting the deserved

break from the bombing that they need so badly. Humanitarian aid will be entering at a much bigger quantity.

I think even the Israeli soldiers can use a break. They've been more than a month in the field and not the best conditions that anyone would want to be

in. So, all around, even though there are risks and there are dangers, a pause in the fighting makes the Israeli soldiers exposed to danger and it

gives Hamas time to rearm and regroup and replan their strategy for the next phase of the war. But the most important thing is bringing these

children and women home to their families.

GOLODRYGA: No doubt that is the most important aspect here, but it struck me when you said that this was a deal. In fact, you proposed an even larger

deal, just days into the war. Why was that met with resistance at the time? Was it coming more from the Israelis or was it Hamas? And what does it tell

you about agreed -- an agreed upon deal now? Who is feeling more vulnerable at this point?

BASKIN: It takes time for any kind of hostage negotiation to be ready to be accepted by the parties, they all think they have other options rather

than negotiating.


These are very strange negotiations because they're not direct. Hamas and Israel are not talking to each other. It's dependent upon third-parties who

have their own interest in their own ways of working. It is essentially a one-sided negotiation. Israel responds to proposals put forth by Hamas and

either says yes or no.

On this particular proposal, President Biden weighed in heavily on the Qataris to improve some of the terms for the Israelis. But the other very

bizarre thing about these negotiations is that Israel is essentially negotiating people that they are determined to kill. And just imagine that

kind of negotiation. Israel is determined to remove all the leaders of Hamas, the religious -- the military leaders and the political leaders, and

these are the people who are making decisions on these hostages.

GOLODRYGA: You mentioned each party in these negotiations having an interest, it goes without saying that that's the case for the Israelis and

Hamas. But for a mediator, you would assume they would have no interest other than playing an objective mediator. So, what is the Qatari's interest


BASKIN: Well, the Qataris have spent billions of dollars to be integrated into the global economy at the same time that they play both sides. Qatar

is a state that supports terrorism. They have supported Hamas for years. They host their leadership. They have funded Hamas with more than a billion

dollars over the years. Their Al Jazeera Arabic speaking station, as opposed to Al Jazeera English is a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood

and Hamas.

So, they have their own way of working. They have played roles in negotiations between the U.S. And Taliban. They played roles in negotiating

with Iraqi insurgents at the time. It's a very bizarre country with a very bizarre set of interest. No one can really put that much pressure on them.

The United States, it's largest military base in the region is in Qatar, and then Europeans desperately need the Qatari gas to keep warm in the

winter. So, no one is going to put Qatar on the list of nations that support terrorism, which would cut their ability to invest in the world,

which they're doing. And they want to appear in the favor of the West because they are busy buying companies on NASDAQ and in Silicon Valley and

properties in London and Qatar Airlines flies all over the world.

GOLODRYGA: How are we expected to see this happen? Will the public see any images in your view? Because of course, when two elderly ladies were

released, we saw Hamas hand them over to the Red Cross. Now, we're getting information that that will not be the case here likely, if for no other

reason than among this first tranche of hostages will be young children. So, when do you expect the public to either see or get confirmation that

they have made it into Israel safely?

BASKIN: I think it's likely that before this evening is over, the Israelis will get the list of the first 10 or 12 hostages to be released. There will

be a six-hour pause in Israeli flying drones over the Gaza Strip in order to enable Hamas to organize the hostages. I assume that what they will do

is use several different convoys of identical vehicles leaving from different locations in order to prevent the Israelis from actually

identifying where the hostages are coming from.

They will arrive to the border crossing with Egypt and the International Red Cross will receive them and check them, verify their identities, and

turn them over to the Egyptian side of the border, where they'll be transported to the Israeli side.

On the Israeli side, they'll be taken immediately to hospital in Israel for medical checkups. I assume that their families will be waiting for them at

the hospitals where they will be taken. Shortly after they're all checked medically and if they don't need medical treatment, they will certainly

need psychological treatment.

But I imagine that the Israeli intelligence people will want to talk to them as much as possible, as gently as possible, in order to gather from

them intelligence information about what they went through over the last 47 days.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I was really struck by one report that IDF soldiers will be escorting the young children to Israel and are already instructed to not

directly answer questions regarding the fate of their parents. Obviously, a lot of these children will be coming home as orphans.

Do you have any concerns? I mean, I know this is the furthest we've come and it looks like both sides have signed off on it. But specifically, when

it comes to Hamas and how mercurial their leadership has been in the past, are you worried about any last-minute hiccups?

BASKIN: I'm worried about what happens if the ceasefire is violated. There's a lot of anger, there's a lot of hatred, both by the part of

Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters. Anything could go wrong on the -- on these days ahead of us, including individuals taking action on their own.


There are even scenarios that could happen. What if tomorrow or the next day, the Israeli intelligence discovers the location of the Hamas leaders

in Gaza, would they take the shot or they wouldn't take the shot? I think they probably would if it was a onetime opportunity, and then the deal is

off. It's frozen. It's finished.

GOLODRYGA: And then what happens to the rest of the hostages? And what would then happen to the rest of the hostages?

BASKIN: Well, they would be left behind and more negotiations would have to take place or the war would immediately pick up. And search and rescue

operations would begin. But it's all very fragile, particularly when the two parties have zero trust in each other. And there's so much emotion

involved here from both sides.

GOLODRYGA: There has been some confusion over the last 24 hours about the role of the Red Cross. From our understanding, the Red Cross will have

access to the hostages, but what's unclear is which hostages specifically. Is it the 50 in the first tranche that Hamas has agreed to turn over, or

will they have access to the remainder of the hostages held in Gaza?

BASKIN: Right. There was some talk that the Red Cross would be having access to all the hostages who are left behind, that they would be taken

in, they would be able to visit them, they would be allowed to bring medicine with them.

I think it's very unlikely to happen, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it does. I think this was actually an announcement that came out of

Washington and not from Qatar from someplace else. The Red Cross should have access. According to international law, they should. They are not a

party to the conflict. This is what they do.

They will certainly be on the ground in Gaza to receive the hostages. They will also verify the identity of the Palestinian prisoners that are

released by Israel and will supervise that release as well because they are a trusted third-party. But there's a limit to what they're allowed to do by

Hamas, and this has been the case with Hamas since its formation. They never gave access to the Red Cross before a deal was made.

GOLODRYGA: Given that, and given its independence, I just spoke with a family member of a hostage in the last hour, and I'm hearing consistently

that there is a lot of disappointment and frustration that there wasn't more pressure from the Red Cross specifically to have access throughout

these seven weeks to these hostages. Do you think that would have made a difference? I mean, you know these Hamas leaders.

BASKIN: I also know the people from the Red Cross and I know that they've made every effort to have access to do the job that they're supposed to do.

They are not a party to the conflict and they don't carry arms. They're not peacekeepers. They don't wear a helmet that allows them to go into a war

zone. They have to be allowed in. And when they go into a war zone, they're taking great personal risk to themselves.

I know how much they wanted to visit the hostages, how much they want to fulfill their mandate. It's not a matter of pressure. I don't think Hamas

could be pressured into it unless the United States was willing to use the ultimate a weapon against the ultimate stick against Qatar, and that's the

threat to put them on a terrorist state that supports terrorist list, but the United States is not willing to do that. So, there's a limit. The Red

Cross itself has no ability to pressure.

GOLODRYGA: Gershon, you are well known within this orbit, of hostage negotiations. And sadly, you've become well-known internationally as the

face of what goes on behind the scenes. And what's come to light is your relationship with some of these officials and leaders, namely, Ghazi Hamad,

one of the leaders of, Hamas, who you've maintained a relationship with for many, many years.

Until just recently, you decided to stop communicating with him. You were very public about that. Is there anything more that you'd like to share on

that front? And have you heard anything from his end?

BASKIN: We were in contact for 17 years, and over the 17 years we spoke and communicated more than a thousand times. We met face-to-face four

times, twice in Gaza and twice in Egypt. In 2021, I was trying to push him to agree to meet with me somewhere in a country that allows him to visit,

it was Norway or Switzerland. And it almost happened.

Over the last months, including a month before the war, I was pushing him to meet together in Cairo for us to brainstorm together to figure out how

to break the deadlock between Israel and Hamas. He left Gaza before the war began, apparently knowing that the war was going to happen. And he became

the spokesperson of the war. And in doing so, he has actually become a different person than the one that I knew.

In fact, I spoke to a journalist yesterday from Norway who was in Beirut a few days ago and met Ghazi Hamid, and he was also very surprised when he

had a conversation, because at the beginning of the war, Ghazi was denying that Hamas did the things that it did. And shortly after that, he was

legitimizing it and saying that they would do it again and again and again.


And for a person who I spoke about long-term arrangements and even possibilities of peace to talk about the annihilation of the State of

Israel and it not having any right to exist, he's simply not the same person that I knew, and there's no point in me talking to him.

I do admit that I have sent him messages since I cut off with him, because if he could help to save human lives, then I would continue to talk to him,

but I don't believe he's in the decision-making circle anymore.

GOLODRYGA: Gershon Baskin, thank you for your time. I do hope the next time we speak we'll have some good news and see the return of some hostages

to their families. We appreciate it.

BASKIN: You too. Thank you very much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now as we enter a new phase of war, questions are being raised about what justice will look like in the long-term. Pope Francis

made some damning remarks today. Take a listen.


POPE FRANCIS: This morning, I received two delegations. One of Israelis who have relatives held hostage in the Gaza Strip, and another of

Palestinians who have relatives imprisoned in Israel. They suffer so much. And I heard how both sides are suffering. This is what wars do. But here,

we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.


GOLODRYGA: But how do we go about prosecuting alleged crimes? Joining me now is former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno

Ocampo. Luis, welcome to the program.

First, let's talk about this deal, this hostage deal that hopefully will go into effect in just a few hours. From a human rights perspective, what is

your reaction to it?


opportunity to have a new vision. What vision? Justice vision. Justice vision means protect both, protect Palestinian victim and Israeli victims,

protect both.

When Israelis bombed Palestinians, it's doing exactly what Hamas was intended. Hamas attacked Israel to provoke Israel, to provoke the war, to

provoke the bombing of Palestinians and delegitimize Israel. That's what Hamas did. Hamas does not care about Palestinians. In fact, Hamas is using

Palestinians as a shield, which is a war crime, by the way. But so, for me, this is an opportunity to have a new vision to protect both.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I want to read for our viewers what you recently said in describing the war and what started the war in an interview. You said what

happened on October 7th was a genocide because Hamas's intention is to destroy the Israeli people. Furthermore, it is a crime against humanity, a

massive attack on the civilian population, and the taking of hostages is a war crime.


GOLODRYGA: Then you went on to say, that you were being -- you've been critical of Israel's response, specifically as it relates to the blockade.

And there's been concern, of course, about potential forced displacement.

Given the ICC's role, what influence and what role could it play as an independent post war investigation begins, hopefully, when this war is

over? Israel's not a signatory to the ICC. The court does, however, have jurisdiction over Gaza.

OCAMPO: Yes. It might. I was three years involved on this conflict when I was a prosecutor. Then in 2015, the Palestine became a state party. And

since 2021, the International Criminal Court accepted to open investigation there.

And few days ago, the current prosecutor, Karim Khan, went to Egypt and talk about the need to investigate both sides. But for me, the problem is

we need -- it's not just about prosecutors or judges, because it will be late. It will take three to four years. We need to stop the problem now.

So, with Israel understanding, it's not a good idea to do this war. This negotiation should bring a new vision.

Look, how many days, 40 days doing this bombing and killing? How many hostiles were rescued? Zero. Zero. How many civilians were killed, and how

many Hamas commanders were killed? Numbers are not clear, but at least apparently 12,000 civilians killed. So, we are going nowhere.

And as you say, the blockade -- the Hamas attack is clearly for me a genocide because Hamas has intention to destroy the Israelis from the land.

But the answer, in particular, the blocking of the water and the gas line to 2 million people, no Hamas, that is a war crime. A crime against

humanity and probably a genocide.


So -- and I talk to my friends who are super expert international law from Israel, and they agree with me that -- they reject the genocide idea, but

they agree with me, war crimes, clearly, crimes against humanity, clearly, because we cannot block and affect 2 million people. Palestinians are not

Hamas. Hamas is not Palestine. And that's the distinction we have to make. That's why the justice approach helps us to understand alternatives.

GOLODRYGA: Let me turn to some of the developments and concerns from some in your own country, your home country of Argentina and their new president

elect, Javier Mele. How do you feel about the elections, the surprising turnaround, and some of his positions, specifically, in the past, in his

skepticism about an estimated murder of 30,000 people or so between 1976 and 1983?

OCAMPO: Well, interesting. Argentina in during the '70s had a war, internal war, civil war between guerrillas and the army. And Argentinian --

the Pope, as you know, is Argentinian. So, Argentinians will learn justice is alternative. I became the prosecutor of my generals in my country 40

years ago. And that's why, for us, it's important the idea of justice.

What happened with the junta trials 40 years ago, we consolidated democracy. No more coup d'etat in Argentina. Now, recent election,

something very interesting happened. An economist with no past, no party, almost alone won the election. 56 percent of the votes in favor. He has

connection with Bolsonaro and Trump, but he's not Bolsonaro or Trump.

GOLODRYGA: So, who is he? Who is he in your view?

OCAMPO: Well, you know, because this invitation I was reading about, because I live in Los Angeles, so I'm reading about him now. He's an

economist, and he's a libertarian. He's a libertarian. He is Cato Institute in the U.S. So, he believe in markets and in freedom. That was he's talking


And totally different than Trump, when he listen to you -- when you listen to him, he's talking about he's the president of all the Argentinians. And

also, he's talking about supporting the law, respecting the law, respecting the judges. In fact, he was saying, making judicial independent.

How he would do it, that's a challenge. You have no idea. Another thing he knows. Because he was elected president with no party. So, he has less than

10 percent of the votes in the Senate and almost a little more than 10 in the house. So, he has no majority.

So, the real challenge in Argentina now is how the Argentinians play together. And can this president who was elected challenging the old

political class, can he be smart enough to unite all Argentinians to push for his reforms? That's the challenge. But it's not him. He's not Trump.

He's not Bolsonaro. He's different. He's a libertarian. How -- can he move Argentina? OK. We don't know.

GOLODRYGA: But it may, I think, reflect a sign of just desperation from the status quo for many decades in the country, specifically in terms of

its economic malaise. You have inflation at nearly 150 percent now, it's estimated to go to about 185 percent by the end of the year within a matter

of a few months. Poverty is at a high level right now. Corruption is rampant throughout the country.

So, what does it say that there is a society willing to elect somebody? I mean, this is why I think the comparisons with Trump are made, not just

because of his eccentric nature or some of the off-color remarks he makes, but because he comes across as an outsider. What does it say about the dire

economic situations in the country that they would be willing to take a risk on someone like him now?

OCAMPO: Yes. I think you're right. That was the reason of his election, because he's promising to transform economy. Argentina has democracy,

that's OK, that was obtained 40 years ago. Now, people choose this person, has no past, challenging the political class, challenging how Argentinian

politicians manage the economy, proposing free market. That's his challenge, completely different than Trump. Because he -- Mele is proposing

judges and law, the opposite of Trump.

So, I believe -- and Argentina is different than Brazil and U.S. So, it's a new -- Argentina is a very interesting country, it's a very crazy country

and interesting. We'll see what happens. But as you say, he's proposing an economic reform. Can he do it? We don't know.


GOLODRYGA: Yes. Budget cuts, dollarizing, the currency. But, you know, some of his detractors and critics accuse him of being a threat to

democracy. It sounds like you aren't willing to go there just yet.

OCAMPO: Well, he was elected by 50 percent of the votes. And in my country, everyone accepts the elections, were fair elections, everyone

agree. And he was saying, I will govern for all the Argentinians. When I -- I live in the U.S., Trump is not saying that. So, it's different than

Trump, different than Bolsonaro.

Can he deliver? That's a different question. But I feel it's a mistake to confuse Mele with Trump or Bolsonaro. He's different. He's a libertarian.

How he'll manage? We don't know. But Argentinians learn about war is wrong. Justice is needed. And that lesson that the Pope presented is a lesson the

world has to listen in the Israel Gaza. It's a new vision. We need to protect everyone.

GOLODRYGA: You mentioned the Pope. I mean, I just would be remiss not to say that Javier Mele has trash talked the Pope and others. But he is --

OCAMPO: Wait, wait, wait, wait.


OCAMPO: But, you know, the Pope being the Pope, he called him. So now, Mele was talking to the Pope, very happy. And as a president, Mele invited

the Pope. As a president, Mele is showing a different attitude, much more integrating people and he invited the Pope and respect the Pope. So, you

see, Argentina could be in agreement.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, maybe they can reconcile. And if anybody can bring about reconcile, of course it would be the Pope. Luis Moreno Ocampo, thank you so

much for your time. We appreciate it.

OCAMPO: Thank you very much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now in the U.S., the film industry is still falling short on diverse representation, both on screen and off. According to UCLA's

latest report, only 16 percent of last year's top Hollywood releases were directed by people of color.

Our next guest, Roger Ross Williams, was the first African American director to win an Oscar and now has a collection of Emmy and Peabody

awards under his belt. Still, his journey has been an uphill battle. Released this week, Williams' new documentary, "Stamped from the

Beginning," explores the roots of anti-black racism in the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racist ideas of African people as beastly worthy of enslavement started circulating.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens when we tell these myths about who black people are and what their role in American society is?


GOLODRYGA: And he joins Michel Martin to discuss further.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Roger Ross Williams, thank you so much for talking with us. Welcome.


MARTIN: So, Academy Award-winning director. How does it feel to hear it?

WILLIAMS: It still feels special when people say that. You know, for the rest of my life, I will always be known as Academy Award-winning director.

And what's crazy about it is being the first black man to -- black person to win an Academy Award for directing is kind of crazy because there's so

many amazing directors that came before me. So, you know, Academy is a little behind.

MARTIN: Do you remember what it felt like when they called your name or they called the name of your film? Do you remember that feeling? Can you

take us back?

WILLIAMS: It's the most terrifying, scary out of body feeling. So, when they called my name, I literally was out of body. But I remember running

down the aisle and high fiving people as I was taking the stage because I was seeing, you know, friends and fellow nominees who you'd spent so much

time with. And I was high fiving until I took the stage. So, yes, it's nothing.

And then you -- the spot -- I remember seeing Meryl Streep. I remember looking down in the first row and seeing Meryl Streep. And I was like, oh,

my God, Meryl Streep is watching.

MARTIN: On the one hand, as you pointed out, it was an historic moment. I mean, you're the first African American found person to win for an Academy

Award for directing. And then, for people who don't remember, this was for your short "Music by Prudence." This is in 2009. And it was also weirdly a

precursor to subsequent disruptions of the Academy Award ceremony when your acceptance speech was interrupted by one of the producers of the film who

stormed onto the stage and it disrupted your speech.


WILLIAMS: I never imagined my wildest dreams that I'd end up here. This is so exciting. This is so exciting.


WILLIAMS: This is so exciting. It's so exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't just the classic thing.


MARTIN: Did it mar the moment for you?

WILLIAMS: It did. It did. It -- you know, at the time, it was really upsetting. And you know, I feel like it was like Karenism before Karenism

became Karen -- Karenism. But it was really upsetting. But in the long run, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because everyone knew --

remembered that moment.


And I, you know, was the biggest story in the news the next day, which didn't seem great. But then later, everyone just knew who I was, and it

really put me on the map, because when the short documentary category is going, you know, people go for their nachos or whatever, they don't pay

attention, but they paid attention.

MARTIN: Documentary shorts are often the kind of the gateway to the other opportunities didn't work that way for you, though. I mean, I think a lot

of people have this kind of notion. You win an Academy Award, you get that statue and then, you know, the door is open.

WILLIAMS: No, it was, you know, a different time in Hollywood. No one called. I got not one phone call. No agents called. I got no job offers. I

was sleeping on my friend, Geoff Martz, who's my business partner now, sleeping on his couch. I had nothing, no money, no opportunities.

MARTIN: Why do you think it is that just nothing changed?

WILLIAMS: Because people who look like me don't get those kinds of opportunities because the people who are making those decisions don't look

like me. So, they're hiring -- you know, there weren't a lot of opportunities for African American gay men to create content. No one was

interested in what we had to say in Hollywood, and so, they weren't calling, you know.

And you know, obviously that is changing. You know, and I'm trying to change that now, you know. What's crazy is that, flash forward, 10 years

later, I become one of the people actually leading the academy, you know, that's run by a board of governors. I was elected as the head of the

documentary branch. You're elected to that position. And I'm like, wait a minute, oh, my God. Now, I'm in the leadership position. I was only the

second -- maybe second or third, African American elected to the board after the legendary Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

And I went in that room and there it is, Spielberg, Tom Hanks, all the most powerful people in Hollywood that sit on that board. And I was like, I

could -- and I was intimidated. I'm not going to lie, but I could break down the barriers, break down the doors for others. So, I was like, I'm

going to, you know, kick over the table. I'm going to change my branch. I'm going to invite people like me to have -- in leadership positions in the

documentary branch, and the documentary branch is now the most diverse branch in the whole academy.

MARTIN: To have such a signature achievement and then to basically have the phone go silent the next day, I mean, how did you hang in there all

these years?

WILLIAMS: I think it's because I have a passion for storytelling and I had things I wanted to say, whether anyone wanted to buy it or hear it. And --

you know, and going on after that I struggled and made my first feature film, and I did it through grants and through organizations like the Ford

Foundation, who would give grants to filmmakers like me and public television, you know, who gave me the money to go make "God Loves Uganda"

about the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, which 10 years later has just passed.

You know, but I went to Uganda because I wanted to explore this really dark place where American evangelicals were going to Uganda, and they were, you

know, doing things they couldn't get passed in America in Uganda, in a country where they were taking money and resources so they had power.

So, I was -- when I made that film and it took me years and I struggled through grants and I was determined because I was determined to tell that

story, to tell the stories that are personal to me.

MARTIN: So, fast forward to now, you are having this incredible moment. You have not one, not two, but three different projects all premiering this

fall, and what's remarkable is they are all different. So, let's talk about that. I mean, there's "Cassandro," which is your first narrative feature.




MARTIN: It's a fictionalized account of the life of a real person who is an openly gay professional -- Mexican professional wrestler. It's

bilingual. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal. You've got your "Stamped," which is based on Ibram X. Kendi's bestseller of the same name. And you've got a

film about "The Super Models," the four, the famous four. I'm looking at them sort of superficially. I'm thinking they're all different, but are

they like? Is there something that unites them?


WILLIAMS: They're all me. You know, I tell stories that are really personal to me and, you know, the story of "Cassandro," of a really openly

gay -- proud gay man who goes into the macho world of Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling and achieves great success and fame on his own terms as himself,

as who he is, it's really a story, a journey of self-acceptance, it's a journey that I took as a gay man.

So, I really wanted to tell that story because I was moved because it was like -- it was my story, it's a story of a lot of people from the LGBTQ

plus community. So, that was really important.

"The Super Models" was, you know, I grew up with the super models. I -- it was the -- you know, I was coming of age. I was in New York, you know,

going out to nightclubs. And I knew these women and these women where that was a defining time in culture when music and art and fashion is all coming

together and Hollywood all coming together, they were the original influencers, you know. And so, that was really part of my -- you know, my

story as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We only have one black girl this season. It was that time. Black girls can only do shows in the summer. Black girls can only

wear the bright colored clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said to them, if you don't book her, you don't get me.


WILLIAMS: And with "Stamped," it's really about me struggling to really understand my place in America as a black man. You know, why is everything

that's going on in this country from the racial reckoning that we've all experienced that is now seems to be like, you know, forgotten to the daily

destruction of black bodies, all of that, I'm trying -- I'm grappling with that, like, when I step out my door I'm in danger. I could be shot down. I

could be, you know, killed at any moment by the police or anyone else who deems me not worthy or equal to them.

And I just wanted to understand that, and Ibram X. Kendi's book did that for me. And I was like, I'm going to make a film about this. So, it's all


MARTIN: It's so interesting that I wonder in a way that this is kind of the universe making up for the fact that your phone didn't ring all those

years ago, and then now, all of a sudden, I'm thinking it doesn't stop ringing, you know?

WILLIAMS: Yes. You know --

MARTIN: It's so strange.

WILLIAMS: -- it doesn't stop ringing. And I -- you know, the great thing about it is that I got to create a company, a production company called One

Story Up and I got to invite creators, black creators, BIPOC creators, who don't -- still don't have the opportunities that they should have into

really vouch for them with buyers, with the big streamers and get them to create their work, get them -- you know, give them a platform for their

work. And it's paid off. It's so rewarding to do, to be able to do that and to be able to be in a position to do that.

So, not only is it paying off for me, it's paying off for all the people, all the little Rogers that, you know, don't have the opportunities that I

now have.

MARTIN: You can't help but notice that these -- all these three pieces arise at a particular moment in our history where some of the groups that

you focus on, there's been sort of tremendous resistance, backlash, if you want to call it that, against what they have to say. I mean, there's a

concerted effort in some jurisdictions to, for example, disallow Ibram X. Kendi's book from being taught or even appearing on library shelves.

You can't help but notice that in some jurisdictions that there is a sort of a concerted and organized attempt to disappear the stories of queer

people, trans people from sort of public life, especially from exposure to kids.

Obviously, all these projects took you years to develop and to bring into production, but it is sort of interesting that they're all arriving now in

this particular moment. I just wonder if you draw anything from that.

WILLIAMS: I think we're in a very critical place in America. You know, it's so divided. And, you know, when, when someone like Ibram X. Kendi, who

is really a historian, who is really an academic, a brilliant academic, has to wear a bulletproof vest to go out in public because his life is in

danger, his books are banned, where -- what -- that says so much about this country.

And, you know, and I think, you know, for me, understanding that the fact that this country hasn't really grappled with the legacy of slavery, it's

why I did -- I also did "The 1619 Project" with Nicole Hannah Jones series, you know, that's why I've been exploring that because, you know, for me, a

platform like Netflix, which is so widely watched and is so widely viewed throughout the world, I'm trying to educate people really about what -- you

know, what are the origins of this? Where did this come from? They can understand it. So we can begin to have conversations around this.


And that's really -- even with, "Cassandro," you know, where being, you know, dragged -- you're -- there are -- it's being outlawed to be dragged,

I wanted to make a film about someone who dresses in drag in a macho world of, Lucha Libre wrestling and does it on his own terms and is proud and out

about it. And I think that America needs to see these kinds of films. Really, you know, that's why I'm -- that's my motivation for making all of


MARTIN: Well, how did -- what -- can I just go to "Cassandro" for a second? How on earth did -- how did you get connected to this project?

Because one might superficially think this is outside your experience. I mean, from what I understand, I don't think you're bilingual. I don't think

you're Mexican American. I don't think this is not something that you kind of grew up with. So, how did you get connected to this project?

WILLIAMS: Well, it was a "New Yorker" article, and the "New Yorker" did a series on Amazon, called "The New Yorker Presents," which was turns the

magazine into art. So, I did a short 15-minute documentary about "Cassandro" for "The New Yorker" series.

And I -- when I met Cassandro, who lives in El Paso Juarez and goes back and forth, you know, his family's half in El Paso, half in Juarez on the

border, I was completely blown away by his story of resilience, his story of -- like, his journey of self-acceptance.

You know, the fact that he's an effeminate out gay man wrestling in drag, and that the first time I saw him wrestle in Juarez in the stadium, he

walks into the stadium with his theme song, "I Will Survive," playing and everyone is singing, I will survive. And these macho men are hugging him

and people are handing him their babies and kissing him. I started to cry. I was like, this is about breaking down those barriers. This shows, to me -

- it shows that we're not so divided. That if people can love him and he can become a big superstar in this world, and he can be accepted and loved,

I was like, this is a really inspirational story.

And I want to tell positive, inspirational stories about the -- about people in the gay community because there's so many depressing and sad


MARTIN: Well, you know, to that end, not to detract from anything you just said, but there are that path to acceptance was not a smooth, straight

line, you know, as it were. There are some scenes there to hear him being yelled at and having people yelling slurs, gay -- anti-gay slurs at him. I

just found it -- I found it painful.


MARTIN: I just -- do you mind if I ask, like, what was it like to film those scenes?

WILLIAMS: Well, the wonderful thing about Cassandro is that he took those slurs and almost used it as his superpower. I see it as a superpower hero

narrative where he took those slurs and he used it and he made -- they made him stronger in the ring. They made him -- he's like, I'm not going to let

it defeat me. I'm going to let it, you know, energize me.

And he was good as a wrestler. He was -- his moves, everything he did was so good. And he got stronger. And that confidence that -- he used it to

build his confidence in the ring. And the audience, then that confidence becomes infectious. And then infects the audience and he wins over the

audience. I just found that fascinating.

You know, I had never seen anything like that. And so, many of us in the gay community, when someone uses a slur against us, we're defeated. We

shrink down. We want to run away and hide. He ran right into the fire, so to speak, and said, I am who I am, literally, and I'm proud and I'm going

to do this and you're going to love me. And they fell in love with him.

MARTIN: So, before we let you go, what's next? What else you got?

WILLIAMS: A lot. It's coming. You know, now, people are actually calling me. And I'm -- and, you know, what -- for me, what is really important is

building my company and allowing these young BIPOC filmmakers to tell their stories, giving them, you know, a license to tell their stories, giving

them the opportunities to tell their stories. That's really important, is like, opening the door, you know, because it's still a struggle. The

struggle is not over.


And I'm going to continue to create work that I think is really important, that I think informs and inspires people all across the world. And I love

what I do. So, I'm going to keep doing it.

MARTIN: Roger Ross Williams, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. It's great to speak to you, Michel.


GOLODRYGA: Well, as we come to the American holiday of Thanksgiving, let's take a moment to reflect on the good things life has to offer, which for

us, at least, includes the music of singer songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

Now, 75 years old, Stevens is still making new music, and he's out playing the classics. "Peace Train," "Morning Has Broken," "Father and Son," we all

know and love so well.

Christiane spoke with Yusuf/Cat Stevens earlier this year.




AMANPOUR: I've been listening to you since I was a teenager. Now, "King of a Land," your latest album, you have written. This new record is a

culmination, a very clearly defined outcome of where I've been and where I am. So, first, where are you?

STEVENS: In this time and place right now where I am 75 coming up. And so, you know, I've kind of lived a lot and I've achieved many of my dreams. And

there was some nightmares along the way, you know. But at the same time, you know, I've lived. I've done more -- I've had more lives. You may

consider -- you say that than quite a lot of people, a lot of pop stars, you may say, because I've been -- I came out of the business as well, you

know, and that was like, I've got a life and I came back again.

So, I've been there. I've done that. You know, that's kind of like where I am.

AMANPOUR: What -- so, tell me the nightmares.

STEVENS: The nightmare for me began really -- because I was an immigrant. You know, my father was from Cyprus, mother from Sweden. And like, where

did I fit? And you know, at school, they could be a little bit cruel.

AMANPOUR: Definitely.

STEVENS: And so, I had to find my place. And I think art was the thing which kind of, I think, elevated me to a status where it could be accepted.

AMANPOUR: So, this new album, it's been described as, you know, taking us back to that moment of childhood, the happy times. Was that your intention?

Because it's an album that falls at a time where we are -- you just have to open your eyes and we're in the middle of such discord and upheaval and all

of that.

STEVENS: True, and that's exactly why we do need these opportunities -- these moments to reflect on some of the good things, you know. And music

makes us feel good. You know, there's times when, yes, you're depressed and yes, the song makes you feel melancholy, but it helps you, it gives you a

reference point, maybe going back to some other time when you were kind of more safe and you're in a better space.

And so, music can definitely help. But of course, it can't do the full job. It can only promise, it can't fulfill the promise.

AMANPOUR: I do want to play a clip from one of the songs, the songs that we're allowed to use. And this is the song "Take the World Apart."

STEVENS: I'll take the world apart. To find a place for a peaceful heart. I know I've got to find it, although, I bread down the Walls of China, I

will. I'll take the world apart.

AMANPOUR: So, I mean, just that last image, it's almost little prince- esque, right?


AMANPOUR: The little prince.


AMANPOUR: Why is it the last and what do you mean, take the world apart? What does this song mean to you?

STEVENS: Well, it's the last track because it's an upturn. And maybe the track before it is a little bit deep, but I wanted people to come away

after the album with an up, you know, feeling good and optimistic. And that's why -- and for me, peace, you know, is the first stop and it's the

last stop. You know, there's -- whatever happens in between, that's life. But pieces, the objective. And so, we make -- we emphasize that by being

the last track.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you're famous, you know, euphoric "Peace Train" --

STEVENS: Yes, peace train holly roller, everyone jump upon the peace train. Come on, peace train. Yes, it's the peace train.


AMANPOUR: -- are you disappointed in all the years that have transpired since and we don't actually have a peace train or peace?

STEVENS: Well, peace has many aspects. I mean, I do not think that it's just -- there is a physical aspect. For instance, if somebody is starving,

how can you, you know, expect them to find peace? You know, they want to feed their children, want to feed themselves.

So, actually, that's one of the reasons why we started "Peace Train," which has turned into a kind of a charity, concentrating on feeding people. But

there's -- more peace is not also just the physical, you know, peace. I mean, there's a saying, Jesus, I think we should all know it, you know,

that man does not live by bread alone, you know.

So, we are spirits. And for that reason, also, our spirits need some kind of peace. We need to find out. We need to feel comfortable with who we are

and comfortable with their neighbors too. I mean, there's so much that can create peace but seems to be working against it.

AMANPOUR: Indeed. I think one of your either colleagues or certainly, people you admired was George Harrison of The Beatles. He was incredibly

spiritual. I think you did the final production -- you finished the album at his home/studio here in England?

STEVENS: Correct.


STEVENS: We were allowed to use the Dark Horse studio in Henley-on-Thames, which is where his -- you know, his house, his mansion, his -- and his son

was the facilitator. And it was fantastic because you know, for me, The Beatles personified, you know, the way forward, the way in which we could

define a new world, even if it was only through music, lyrics, for that time. And -- but we believed in it. But there was more to George than just,

you know, the songs. And, you know, he was actually looking and he helped us to turn east.

So, therefore, he was really an inspired person for me. And especially at the time when I was sick and I was I was in bed with tuberculosis. I had my

first exposure to fame and everything that came along with it was, again, part of the nightmares, which I was referring to you before. And then, if I

needed something, while I'm lying on the bed, you know, where am I going to end up when all this disappears? You know, when I dropped off the planet,

and that's where George was already, you know, experimenting, or, you know, seeking ways to find the light through the maharishi and all that. But that

was inspiring for me.

AMANPOUR: And actually, you know, you've said, George was one of the first to put a charity concert on for the poor, at the time millions of

Bangladeshis were fleeing from conflict and becoming refugees. It was a brave thing to do, and against all establishment rules. I'm happy to sing

one of his songs, especially as it represents the return of light and hope to a seriously dark and broken world.

We'll get to the song that you recorded in honor of his 80th birthday. But this is so relevant now, with this brouhaha about refugees and the other

and asylum and, you know, people who need, you know, us to be kind.

STEVENS: Yes. It's so obvious. I mean, and then, when they start to move, which is the nature of human beings, when they're not happy where they are

now, they've got to go somewhere else. And then, you know, you closed the door, even though you've been advertising as being the best place in the

world to be. They're not really fair, is it?

And now, I felt, well, that's one -- that's the one song that I really think personifies, you know, the optimism that we need right now.

Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like it since it's been here. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun

and I say, it's all right.


GOLODRYGA: Wow. What a poignant message of hope and optimism there from singer/songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

And finally, let's take a moment now to look back on a day that shocked the world. Sixty years ago, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was

assassinated in Dallas. His tragic death fueled countless conspiracy theories.

But he is remembered, amongst other things, as the president who navigated Cold War tensions and committed the United States to putting a man on the

moon. Take a listen to his words on peace delivered at the American University in June of that year.



JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, let us persevere. Peace need not be impractical, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal

more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly

towards it.


GOLODRYGA: Word still relevant 60 years later.

Well, that is it -- that's it for now. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.