INFIDEL is a Middle East thriller from an original script by Cyrus Nowrasteh, produced and directed by him. It was inspired by a number of different cases of Americans kidnapped and/or arrested and held prisoner in Iran. Those include Michael White, Xiyue Wang, Robin Shahini, and the most notorious case is that of Robert Levinson. The true stories provided many details and specifics that fueled Nowrasteh’s narrative for INFIDEL. It is also inspired, in part, by the experiences of Nowrasteh’s father, Daryush Nowrasteh, who was arrested and detained in 2003 when he visited Iran.
INFIDEL was filmed in Jordan where Nowrasteh filmed his award-winning THE STONING OF SORAYA M. (Lionsgate 2009). The Jordanian film commission kept its filming secret for fear of objections from the Iranian government, and the film had heavy security. The Iranian government did become aware of Nowrasteh being in Amman to film INFIDEL and voiced its displeasure to the Jordanian government.
INFIDEL exposes a Christian underground inside Iran, led primarily by women. They work together in the film with Muslims who are also in opposition to the Iranian regime, by helping the main character, Doug Rawlins (portrayed by Jim Caviezel) and his wife, Liz (played by Claudia Karvan). Another actress was set to play Liz but left the film only weeks before filming due to a conflicting commitment. Karvan was recommended by Caviezel who worked with her on “Long Weekend” (2008).
The part of Ramzi, the kidnapper, is played by actor Hal Ozsan. Nowrasteh, when writing the script, was struggling with writing the East London accent for the Ramzi character. He attended a cigar party in Los Angeles and overheard a man speaking in the accent, introduced himself, and upon meeting Hal Ozsan Nowrasteh left the party convinced Ozsan could play the part. “Hal was perfect,” said Nowrasteh. “No one else could’ve pulled it off.” Nowrasteh, upon later hearing Ozsan tell the story of when he was a child in London attacked by skinheads, asked Ozsan to write the scene and put in the film as a “Ramzi” monologue.
INFIDEL released September 18, 2020 on 1500-1700 screens nationwide in those states where theaters are open post-COVID. It is distributed by CloudBurst Entertainment, a subsidiary of Universal.