On May 3, the E Street Cinema in Washington, DC, hosted a special screening of Argo as part of its “Popcorn and Politics” series. The 2012 film depicts Foundation Council member Tony Mendez’s remarkable role in the 1979 rescue of American hostages from Iran. Tony and his wife Jonna (also a Council member) attended the screening, answered audience questions, and generously donated the evening’s proceeds to the Foundation.
The film, based on Tony’s book, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, is an Academy Award-winner for Best Picture. Tony’s part in the film was played by Ben Affleck, who also directed the film, winning Best Director at that year’s Golden Globe Awards. “It was a lot of fun to spend the evening with fans and friends alike, and it was a great opportunity to spread the word about the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to a new audience,” said Tony.
Tony and Jonna generously requested that proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales benefit the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD noted, “Tony and Jonna have been so generous in their efforts to amplify our message. For Tony to use his battle with Parkinson’s as a platform to help others is truly exceptional – though not surprising.”
The big draw of the night was the opportunity for audience members to participate in a Q&A with Tony and Jonna after the screening, which was moderated by the Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald. For a full hour, Tony and Jonna answered audience questions about their respective careers (25-plus years each) in the CIA working as disguise experts.
In addition to co-authoring a book together – Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations that Helped Win the Cold War – Tony and Jonna have found many post-retirement pursuits to remain busy. They volunteer at DC-area nonprofits, such as the International Spy Museum, and they each pursue post-CIA careers as artists – Tony as a painter; Jonna as a photographer. “We have never been ones to sit idly by. We are happy to do what we can to promote the Foundation and to advance technology that will ultimately benefit virtually everyone someday,” said Jonna.
Tony and Jonna are currently working on a new book, Moscow Rules, due out in April 2018.