Documentary Recounts the Story of the 1980 Rescue Attempt by U.S. Special Forces of American Hostages Being Held in Iran 

Includes interviews with President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Walter Mondale, ABC Nightline Journalist Ted Koppel, Former Hostages, Hostage Takers, and Others, Never Before Seen Archival Material and Exquisite Animation

40 years later, one of the most daring military rescue attempts in US history is coming to the big screen. HISTORY® has licensed North American theatrical and select home entertainment rights for “Desert One” to Greenwich Entertainment. Directed by two-time Academy Award® winner Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County USA” and “American Dream”), the documentary feature recounts the April 24/25, 1980 thrilling attempt to rescue 52 US citizens who were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries in Tehran. Following Greenwich’s theatrical release, “Desert One” will be broadcast on HISTORY.

“Desert One” is produced by Cabin Creek Films. Kopple produced and directed the film, with David Cassidy and Eric Forman serving as producers. The film includes a wealth of unearthed archival sources, as well as intimate interviews with President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Walter Mondale, Ted Koppel, former hostages, journalists, and Iranian student revolutionaries who orchestrated the take-over of the American Embassy in Tehran. Evocative new animation and never before heard satellite phone recordings of President Carter talking to his generals as the mission unfolds, bring audiences closer than anyone has ever gotten to being on the inside for this history making operation.

“Barbara Kopple is one of the pre-eminent documentary filmmakers of our time, and we are thrilled to partner with Greenwich Entertainment to give ‘Desert One’ a theatrical release,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President and General manager of HISTORY. “The film is an emotional and compelling look at a story that is not widely known, but has had a lasting impact on US foreign policy in the Middle East.”

“This was a roller coaster ride of a story well worth telling,” said director Barbara Kopple, “with important moments about American leadership and gumption and relations with Iran and courage in the face of adversity. I believe it’s a film that could help inspire us in our troubled times. We need a lot of inspiration right now.”

“Desert One” premiered to rave reviews at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival followed by incredible reactions at AFI Fest and Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival. Point of View Magazine said, “Kopple’s latest film, Desert One, ranks among her best work.”

“Desert One” is the story of Americans working together to overcome the most difficult problem of their lives. When radical Islamists take fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage inside Iran, Carter secretly green-lights the training for a rescue mission. America’s Special Forces soldiers also find themselves in uncharted territory, planning a top-secret rescue of unprecedented scale and complexity. Driven by deep empathy toward the kidnapped Americans, the heart-pounding and unforeseen events the rescue team participated in will forever unite them. 

The film also presents Iranian perspectives on this important moment in their history. A female Iranian crew filmed overlooked accounts inside that country, one from a man who had been an 11-year-old boy riding a bus through the desert on the night of the mission. As tensions once again rise between the governments of Iran and the U.S., old wounds remain painfully current for many who poignantly detail their recollections in “Desert One.”

On 24 April 1980, a battlefield promise was made to 17 American children. They were left fatherless when 8 Airmen and Marines made the ultimate sacrifice at a remote landing strip called “Desert One” in the failed attempt to rescue 52 American hostages in Iran. The surviving members of Operation Eagle Claw, those who had the guts to try, promised those 17 children that they would be taken care of. 40 years later, that promise transformed into the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF).

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