WOMEN AT WAR: Jim Schembri interviews Whiskey Tango Foxtrot writer Kim Barker
WOMEN AT WAR: Kim Barker details the fine art of compromise in adapting her book into the film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
When it came to transforming her memoir about being a war correspondent in Afghanistan, author Kim Barker knew from the get-go that her story was going to undergo changes.
As a veteran newspaper reporter – she covered Afghanistan for the Chicago Tribune; she is now an investigative reporter for The New York Times – Barker understood the process and trusted actor/producer Tina Fey to honour the gist of her story, which captures the humour and harshness of America’s ‘forgotten war’.
In the film, Fey portrays a semi-fictionalised version of Barker as she reports from the inside of a country under-going chaotic change. The film also stars Margot Robbie as a fellow female colleague, Martin Freeman as a Scottish correspondent and Billy Bob Thornton as a Marine commander.
Close to truth: Though broadly accurate, the real Kim Barker wasn’t a TV reporter and was never shot at.
Given all the amalgamation, exaggeration and compression necessary to turn her 300+ page book into an entertaining comedy, Barker says she is very happy with the film, and describes its degree of accuracy as being ‘truthy’.
Though the book was acclaimed by critics it did not exactly devour the best seller lists. Thanks to the film and Tina Fey’s support, however, the book went on to enjoy a huge sales boost after the film’s release, easily out-stripping its initial sales graph.
Although Barker was at the very tail and of her publicity tour for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, she was happy to take our call at her home in New York. She proved engaging, funny and honest about the movie adaptation process. We also discussed women in film, the present state of journalism and her plans for the future.
Click play for the Kim Barker interview
Click play to view a trailer for the film