End in Sight for Iranian Film Mocking Clerics
May 15, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran is going to take a hit movie mocking clerics off cinema screens by Friday, the film's producer Manouchehr Mohammadi was quoted as saying on the official IRNA news agency on Saturday.
"The Lizard" follows the fortunes of a thief who escapes prison by donning the turban and robes of Iran's clerical elite. Ironically, he proves a crowd-pleaser as a preacher.
"This film is going to be taken off screens gradually by the end of this week," Mohammadi was quoted as saying.
The film, which had a contract to run for 11 weeks from April 21, has packed cinemas across the Islamic Republic. Mohammadi said it had grossed just under $1 million in Tehran alone.
But hard-liners have sharply criticized it. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati -- head of the Guardian Council, an unelected constitutional watchdog with sweeping powers -- said recently the movie was a "bad influence and should be banned."
Worshippers in the cities of Shiraz and Hamadan heard prayer leaders attacking the film in sermons on Friday. It has already been banned in cities of Mashhad, Rasht and the seminary center of Qom.
"Those who oppose 'The Lizard' do not want cinema to exist as a modern medium. They want cinema to be down at heel," Mohammadi told reporters. "They are worried about films that make good money and the existence of brave and effective audience-based cinema," he added.
Montazeri Sees another Revolution Coming
Either officials change their methods and give freedom to the people, and stop interfering in elections, or the people will rise up with another revolution, dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in Qom. There is no freedom, repression is carried out in the name of Islam, and that turns people off. . . . All these court summonses, newspaper closings and prosecutions of dissidents are wrong. These are the same things that were done under the shah and are now being repeated. And now they are done in the name of Islam and therefore alienate people, Montazeri said.
"Iran is going to take a hit movie mocking clerics off cinema screens by Friday, the film's producer Manouchehr Mohammadi was quoted as saying on the official IRNA news agency on Saturday."
Surprised they've allowed it to be shown this long.