Judge: Banned Iranian film 'The Lizard' can be screened in LA
San Jose Mercury News, CA
May 26th 2004
LOS ANGELES - A judge has ruled against an overseas film distributor who attempted to block the distribution of the controversial Iranian film "The Lizard" in the United States.
The film, a satirical movie featuring a thief disguised as a cleric, was a smash hit in Iran until authorities pulled it from theaters May 19. It won top honors at Tehran's international film festival in February and raked in about $1 million.
The film's director, Manuchehr Mohammadi, agreed to a contract to distribute the film through Atlantis Enterprises in the United States and elsewhere. The film's Iranian distributor, Kamal Mosafaye Tabrizi, sought a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court to block the U.S. debut.
Judge Dzintra Jamavs denied that restraining order Tuesday.
Tabrizi's attorney, Patrick M. Saboorian, said he would be back in court next week if the parties can't work out a private agreement.
Among depictions that angered the conservative Iranian clergy were a man singing inside a mosque and a cleric robbing a driver and sweet-talking a young woman. In one scene, a thief escaped from prison disguised as a cleric.
Iran's hard-line clerical establishment is led by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The film, whose Farsi name is "Marmoulak," opened in late April and had been scheduled to continue until the end of July, screening in 33 theaters in Tehran alone.
I hope "Marmoulak" makes it to Seattle. I want to see this...