Jewish Journal


May 24, 2011

Iranian culture minister condemns Cannes for its treatment of Lars Von Trier after Nazi comments



Iranian Vice Minister of Culture, filmmaker Javad Shamaqdari

Iran, it seems, is rushing to the defense of disgraced Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier after the director made flippant remarks about his Nazi-heritage at the Cannes Film Festival last week.

Mike Fleming from Deadline.com is reporting that Iranian Vice Minister of Culture Javad Shamaqdari, one of the regime’s most politically outspoken filmmakers, has sent a letter to the festival decrying their “fascist” treatment of the director, who was officially banned from the festival, after he made sympathetic comments about the Nazis during the press conference for his film, “Melancholia.”

“Surely you remember that the Cannes festival was established with the aim of struggling against fascists,” Shamaqdari wrote, according to indiewire.com’s partial transcript. “After 64 years, it is sad to see the traces of fascist behavior in the Cannes organizers’ decision to expel one of the acclaimed European filmmakers… Perhaps it is necessary to provide a new definition of freedom of speech for encyclopedias. Otherwise, the behavior Cannes exhibited toward Von Trier by forcing him to apologize several times causes everybody to recall the churches’ medieval treatment of Galileo.”

What’s odd is that Fleming thinks this is strange. He calls the incident a “Twilight Zone-like twist” in the ongoing drama, which, unfortunately, is not stranger than fiction.

“It is odd to get a statement of support from the same government that gave harsh prison sentences and banishment from filmmaking to two of its most important directors, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof,” Fleming wrote.

That may be so; but it is not at all odd that an Iranian official would leap to the defense of someone perceived to be a Nazi-sympathizer. Fleming would do well to remember we’re talking about Iran—a country in the midst of developing nuclear weapons under the leadership of a president who has threatened to wipe Israel “off the map”. And it’s surprising when an official of that regime speaks out on behalf of a man who says nice things about Hitler, who wiped 6 million Jews off the map? Nope, sorry, no surprise there.

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