Iran slams screening off Persepolis at Cannes Film Festival
May 23, 2007, 16:25 GMT
Cannes - An animated movie about a woman growing up in revolutionary Iran screened Wednesday in competition for the Cannes Film Festival's coveted Palme d'Or against the backdrop of protests by Tehran to the French government.
France rejected Iran's protests saying there was 'nothing political' in selecting the movie Persepolis for the festival programme. Those responsible for the festival had chosen the movie and they were obviously not under the French government's authority, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jean Baptiste Mattei said in Paris.
Asked by reporters Tuesday in Cannes why she would not give interviews to Iranian journalists, French-Iranian director Marjane Satrapi said media reports of the letter sent to the cultural attache at the French embassy in Iran had been overblown 'and more violent than the (Iranian) reaction itself,' adding, 'It's not an affair of state.'
'I don't want to nourish this dispute because it has been blown up out of all proportions. If people want to talk to me only about the film, I will.'
Set in Tehran 1978 and co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud, the movie based on Satrapi's graphic novel tells the story of nine-year-old Marjane as she grows up amid events leading to the downfall of the Shah's regime and the new government's 'social guardians' who control how people dress and conduct themselves.
An opening scene in colour is followed by a long flashback in black and white. 'Development took a long time because of the sheer number of characters,' said art director Marc Jousset.
Clever and fearless, Marjane, voiced by Chiara Mastroianni and later Gabrielle Lopes, loves punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. But her parents voiced by French actors Catherine Deneuve and Simon Abkarian, become anxious that she is perhaps too outspoken for her own good.
Deneuve said: 'When I was asked by Vogue magazine to act as chief editor for a special issue three years ago, I asked (Satrapi) her to come on board. She did a wholly unconventional one-page comic strip which I found hilarious.'
The harsh reality of the war between Iran and Iraq quickly catches up with the family and her parents decide to send her to Vienna. There she falls in love and enjoys her new-found freedom. But she also pines for home and experiences life on the margins of a new society.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, associate producer Kathleen Kennedy, who also works with Steven Spielberg, said: 'What Marjane did is not simply a political work. My hope with this film is that when it shows in the US ... it is a wonderful opportunity to be pulled into a very complex society that we know not much about.'
However, Satrapi said: 'I don't go back to Iran because I've been told that all sorts of nasty things would happen to me there. I avoid it.' The film's underlying message is universal and about upholding integrity, said co-producer Xavier Rigault.
Deneuve revealed that she will voice the part of the mother in the English version of the movie and US actor Gena Rowlands will voice the role of grandmother. Satrapi declined to give more details.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur