Satirical Iranian film awaits hearing

The producer of a smash-hit film which satirises Iran's ruling clergy is to hold a special screening with two leading Ayat Allah clerics who want it banned.

    Iranian authorities often ban media and publications

    Manouchihr Muhammadi, producer of The Lizard, said on Friday that he hoped to persuade the two Islamic conservatives the comedy, which is playing to packed cinemas, was not poking fun at the clergy.

    "Those who oppose the film base their judgment on what they have heard from those who failed to understand the real message of the film," he told IRNA.

    Muhammadi said Grand Ayat Allah Nasir Makarim Shirazi and Ayat Allah Ahmad Jannati had agreed to attend a special screening of the award-winning film.

    "We hope to remove the ambiguities after meeting with Shirazi and Jannati, whose opinion is decisive for us," Muhammadi said.

    'Social corruption'

    Jannati, who acknowledged he had not seen the film said this week: "The screening of such movies must be confronted because it makes fun of clerics ... it creates social corruption."

    The film follows the fortunes of a thief who escapes prison by donning the religious wear of a Muslim cleric.

    Still disguised and on the run, his un-religious antics such as cracking suggestive jokes and breaking into a house has audiences unused to open mockery of the clergy in hysterics.

    But the film, whose release was delayed for a month while censors debated whether to ban it, has won praise from moderate clerics who point to the protagonist's moral transformation as he realises he must atone for his crimes and finds God.

    The film has been banned by local judiciary in the northeastern shrine city of Mashhad and about a dozen Islamic conservatives have threatened to attack cinemas screening it in other cities.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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