Photo: Uri Porat
Former US President Jimmy Carter
Photo: Uri Porat
Jimmy Carter with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat
Photo: Government Press Office
Carter's book followed by big-screen production
Documentary 'Man from Plains' chronicles former president's contentious cross-country book tour 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid'

Along with building homes for the poor, overseeing elections and brokering peace, add the film-festival circuit to Jimmy Carter's activities since leaving the White House.


Carter the movie star was on hand last week at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "Man From Plains," director Jonathan Demme's documentary that chronicles the former president's contentious book tour that began late last year for his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid".


Jewish groups and other critics condemned Carter for comparing Israeli actions in Palestine to the oppression under South Africa's apartheid regime.


Carter said he chose the title to be provocative, not inflammatory, hoping to encourage debate over Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he considers a key obstacle to peace in the Middle East.


"The title was accurate and it was one that I could justify to the public, and I was interrogated and cross-examined," Carter told The Associated Press in an interview alongside Demme before introducing the film to a Toronto audience. "The book is a very positive book in that it describes exactly what can be done and really must be done to bring peace to Israel."


Due out in October, "Man From Plains" offers a prologue showing Carter and wife Rosalynn's homey life in Georgia, then follows the former president on his cross-country book tour, which was greeted by protesters carrying signs such as "Book of Lies" and "Carter: Communist not Christian."


The film also looks back on the historic Camp David peace accord Carter brokered that led to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.


At the premiere, Carter and his wife received a standing ovation at the start of a discussion on the film, the book and their work on behalf of peace and health issues with the Carter Center. Carter received a second standing ovation before "Man from Plains" debuted.


"In the last year or so, I've spent more time with Jonathan than I have with Rosalynn," Carter told the audience. "He followed me around and we became close friends, and I learned to admire his abilities as a director. I've seen the film. It is, because of him, outstanding, not because of the leading actor in it."


Demme, who won the best-director Academy Award for "The Silence of the Lambs," joked that he had another Carter film in the works that would put the ex-president up against the diabolical serial killer played by Anthony Hopkins in that thriller.


"I'm developing a Jimmy Carter meets Hannibal Lecter project," Demme told a Toronto festival audience before "Man From Plains" screened. "After you finish watching this movie, you'll understand who's going to win."


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