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IRAN: Supreme leader Khamenei gives Hollywood a big thumbs down

November 30, 2009 | 11:54 am


No popcorn thrillers for Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's highest spiritual and political authority blasted Hollywood on Monday during a meeting with artists and directors, engaged in the production of the television serial "Hazrat Yousuf," a tale from the Koran that is airing on Iran's state-owned television.

Khamenei said Hollywood epitomizes political interference in the arts. In Iran, all movies must be approved by the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance.

Hollywood films, he said, are politically charged propaganda with artistic veneers. 

"Most of the movie-making companies in Hollywood are under the political influence of an interconnected system which is behind American politics and even at times goes far beyond governments," he said. 

YosefPoster It was not clear which movies he had in mind. In recent years, Iranian film festivals have often featured the movies of director Michael Moore, who has been critical of American culture, foreign policy and business. Iranian television regularly broadcasts American antiwar movies, such as Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket."

On the other hand, Iranians have often criticized Hollywood movies, including "300," which depicted ancient Persians as effeminate beasts. Iranians said that Hollywood serves as a propaganda arm for U.S. policy. 

But as he spoke against Hollywood's role in pushing political agendas, Khamenei urged Iranian directors to do the same thing.

According to official Iranian news websites, he called filmmaking an effective technique in influencing thoughts and achieving political objectives, and urged Iranian directors to incorporate the Islamic Republic's official ideologies into their work to spread the message of the 1979 revolution. 

Nowadays, "there are various means such as sex to entice the spectators," he said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. But "Hazrat Yousuf," which "focused on piety and chastity," was widely watched in Iran "as well as in some foreign countries. Democracy and religion has been combined in Iran which should be demonstrated through arts for the world people."

He dismissed Western prizes such as the Nobel or Oscars. "Such awards do not have any value and artists should never work to make movies with the purpose of winning such prizes," he said.

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: Top, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (center). Credit: Islamic Republic News Agency

Below: The DVD cover of the Khamenei-approved Iranian television serial "Hazrat Yousuf."