Thailand has caved in to pressure from Iran and withdrawn the animated movie “Persepolis“, about a girl growing up and feeling repressed under Islamic rule, from next month’s Bangkok International Film Festival.
“I was invited by the Iranian embassy to discuss the matter and we both came to mutual agreement that it would be beneficial to both countries if the film was not shown,” festival director Chattan Kunjara na Ayudhya said on Wednesday.
“It’s a good film, but there are other considerations.”
The film, based on the popular French comic books of Iranian director and writer Marjane Satrapi, drew complaints from the government-affiliated Iran Farabi Foundation when it was screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.
In a letter published by several news organisations, the foundation said the film “presented an unrealistic face of the achievements and results of the glorious Islamic Revolution in some of its parts”.
The film follows Satrapi as a little girl watching the fall of the U.S.-backed Shah. She and her family believe that with the Shah gone, state repression will end but the film shows that it only worsens.
Iran’s rulers are criticised in “Persepolis” but so are Western democracies for backing the Shah and supplying his government with weapons.
The Guardian reports that the Iranian official response: that Persepolis is “Islamophobic“.
What “other considerations” might have lead to the withdrawal of the film?
In what way would it be “be beneficial to both countries if the film was not shown”?
I wonder: will the directors, producers and distributors say anything of the cancellation of the showing?
Will they withdraw their own films from the Festival in protest?
Will the success of the Iranian regime’s arm twisting exercise be protested by anybody else on the liberal Left?
It would be nice to think that the film world and those on the progressive Left will stand in solidarity against this sort of outrageous arm-twisting by the Iranian clerical fascists.
Hat tip: AW
Variety has a little bit more. It was the Iranian Ambassador who called for the film to be pulled:
“We have had a request from the ambassador to reconsider the screening of ‘Persepolis,’ and since this could be a matter of international relations, we decided not to show the film,” said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayutthaya of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
“It is a good movie in artistic terms, but we have to consider other issues that might arise here.”
“Persepolis” was originally slated to be the fest’s opening film on Jul. 19. With the cancellation, the festival still has no opening film with only three weeks left.
“It’s too bad Thai people won’t be able to see this film,” said chief programmer Kriangsak Silakong.
The Iranian Cultural Attaché in Bangkok declined detailed comment and said only that the matter should now be “laid to rest.”
A cultural officer at the Iranian embassy in Bangkok told AFP they believed the film portrayed a bad image of their country.
“They tried to make Iranian people sad and upset with the Islamic revolution, which is not true,” said Mohammad, who gave only one name.
“We appreciate that the Thai organisers understand, and now we are trying to introduce other good award-winning Iranian films,” he added.
Will the international artistic community protest about this?