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Lebanon bans prize-winning 'Persepolis'

Latest update : 2008-03-26

"Persepolis", the French-Iranian cartoon which won the jury prize at Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar, has been banned from Lebanese cinemas. No reason was given by the authorities.

BEIRUT — The Oscar-nominated film "Persepolis", which has annoyed authorities in Iran for its critical portrayal of the Islamic revolution, has been banned in Lebanon, an interior ministry official told AFP on Wednesday.

The official, from the ministry's general security department, would not give a reason why the French animated film, which has even been screened in Iran, would not be shown in Lebanon.

But another official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said it was clear the film was banned because it displeased the head of security services, who he said was close to the militant Shia Muslim group Hezbollah.

"It is clear that the head of the general security services, General Wafiq Jizzini, is close to Hezbollah and he doesn't want to allow such a movie which he believes gives an image of Iran as being worse off than it was before the shah," the source said.

Jizzini could not immediately be reached for comment.

The film, which graphically shows its young heroine's brushes with the authorities in the early days of the Islamic revolution in the 1980s, was screened in Iran last month but is not expected to be shown at mainstream cinemas.

A success in the United States and France, "Persepolis" has been condemned by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government as "Islamophobic" and "anti-Iranian".

"Persepolis," which jointly won the jury prize at Cannes and had been nominated for an Oscar for best animated film, is based on comic strips by Iranian-French emigre Marjane Satrapi.

The film, co-directed by Satrapi, shows repression under the shah but also portrays the social crackdown, arrests and executions that followed the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

The heroine's rebellious nature and conflicts with the authorities force her to leave Iran temporarily for Austria and then for France — this time never to return.

Date created : 2008-03-26