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BBC Motion Gallery licenses footage for Charlie Wilson's War

2 January 2008

Universal Pictures’ upcoming film uses archival footage to chronicle the covert war in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Empire.

Burbank, CA (JANUARY 02, 2007)—BBC Motion Gallery, a division of BBC Worldwide Limited and the exclusive global representative for the CBS News Archive, has licensed footage for use in Universal Pictures’ upcoming feature Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman and directed by Mike Nichols. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin and based on the best-selling book by George Crile, will be released in the U.S. on December 21, 2007.

Charlie Wilson’s War tells the true story of how a playboy congressman, a renegade CIA agent and a beautiful Houston socialite joined forces to lead the largest and most successful covert operation in history.  The production team on Charlie Wilson’s War licensed more than 10 minutes of footage from the BBC Motion Gallery CBS News Archives, featuring CBS coverage of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—including footage of Dan Rather embedded with Afghan rebel troops during the conflict.

The Dan Rather footage from the CBS News Archive is integral to the film’s plot.  Early in Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Hanks as Congressman Charlie Wilson reacts to newscasts of the Afghan conflict on television, and he adopts their cause as his rallying cry.  Additional footage from CBS newscasts featuring the war appears throughout the film.

“Mr. Rather’s reports from Afghanistan proved key factors in Congressman Wilson’s decision to begin his support of the Mujahideen,” offers stock footage researcher Jodi Tripli.  “BBC Motion Gallery was able to secure that footage and provide Mr. Nichols and the production team the exact materials to supplement Mr. Sorkin’s script.  This film was one of the more in-depth research projects on which we’ve worked, and BBC Motion Gallery met our every need.”

Other recent feature films using licensed footage from BBC Motion Gallery include Universal Pictures’ “American Gangster,” by director Ridley Scott, Columbia Pictures’ feature “The Brothers Solomon” and the Julie Taymore-directed “Across the Universe.”

“We’ve seen an increase in production teams for documentaries and historical dramas coming to us for very specific footage,” commented Jan Ross, Senior Vice President of the Americas, BBC Motion Gallery.  “Not only is it immensely rewarding to be able to hand off ready-to-use clips for a production to utilize, but seeing how our material is integrated into the final product is always extremely satisfying, especially for a project of this caliber.”