UPDATE, 3:51 AM: It turns out that French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, wife and defender of Carlos the Jackal, is not only angling to sue Hollywood over Ben Affleck‘s Oscar-winning Argo, she’s attempting to mount a case against a series of U.S. films that Iran believes have portrayed it in a distorted and unrealistic manner. Coutant-Peyre, according to local media, is looking to bring suit in international court against directors and producers who local officials believe have promoted “Iranophobia,” The Guardian reports today. The attorney is quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying, “I’ll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country’s image, such as Argo.” Other films that have gotten under the skin of Iranians are understood to include 2006’s 300, 1991’s Sally Field-starrer Not Without My Daughter, and Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated The Wrestler. An attendee at Monday night’s “Hoax Of Hollywood” conference in Tehran, Mohammad Lesani, is reported to have said the gathering was intended to “unify all cultural communities in Iran against the attacks of the West, particularly Hollywood.” The real possibility of a lawsuit is thought dubious, but if brought, it would not be in the U.S., New York defense attorney Stuart Slotnick tells Deadline. “Perhaps those in power in Iran will decide to bring a lawsuit in another country where the movie received distribution”, he said. Iran and the U.S. severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 hostage crisis which is the focal point of Argo. Warner Bros. had no comment on the matter.
Whether or not a suit goes forward, it’s notable that Iran has been increasingly cracking down on its own film community. When banned filmmaker Jafar Panahi‘s Closed Curtain won a prize at the Berlin Film Festival in February, an official said fest organizers “should amend their behavior”, noting, “Everyone knows that a license is needed to make films in our country and send them abroad, but there are a small number who make films and send them out without a license. This is an offense.” The state later confiscated the passports of the film’s co-director and co-stars Kambozia Partovi and actress Maryam Moghadam. This past year, Iran boycotted the Oscars in official protest over the crude American-made Innocence Of Muslims video. That was despite Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi winning the Foreign Language Film Oscar last year for A Separation. We expect his latest film, Le Passé, to head to Cannes, although that movie was made in France.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY AM: The French attorney for Carlos the Jackal, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, is reportedly in Tehran talking to officials about filing a lawsuit against Hollywood over Argo‘s “unrealistic portrayal” of Iran. According to The Associated Press, which cites Iranian media, a decision to investigate how and where to file a suit came after cultural officials and movie critics screened the film on Monday at an event titled “The Hoax of Hollywood.” Which parties would be sued, by whom and under what jurisdiction, have yet to come to light. A Paris-based attorney who is not involved in the affair suggests Iran may have to go “jurisdiction shopping” if it proceeds.
Argo is based on the true story of how the CIA and Hollywood orchestrated the escape of six Americans from Iran after the U.S. Embassy was besieged in 1979. It’s been called pro-CIA propaganda and Iran’s culture minister blasted the film a day after it won the Best Picture Oscar, saying it was anti-Iranian and weak artistically. “We don’t expect anything else from the enemy,” Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said. The movie hasn’t been released theatrically but has been widely available on bootleg DVDs on Tehran’s black market. Underground DVD sellers said last month the film was their best-selling video in years.