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September 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The head of the Iran Cinema Organization has asked Iranian filmmakers to boycott the 2013 Oscars to protest the Academy’s silence about the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked anti-American demonstrations throughout the Middle East. Javad Shamaqdari’s call for a boycott came after the ICO named the critically praised A Cube of Sugar as Iran’s entry in the 2013 Foreign Language Film category. The English-language Teheran Times quoted Shamaqdari as saying in a message to the selection committee, “I propose avoiding the cinematic event until the officials of the Academy Awards produce an appropriate response to the insulting film about the Holy Prophet Muhammad.” However, the Iranian Students News Agency, a wire service operated by university students, quoted Amir Esfandiari, a spokesman for the selection committee, as saying, “The ICO director’s proposal is worthwhile, but the selecting board’s view was that we should not deprive the Iranian cinema of the tribute.” Only a so-called trailer of Innocence of Muslims has been released (on YouTube), an amateurish work that is unlikely ever to see the light of day as a completed film, let alone be considered by the Academy. However, the Academy has no rules barring the submission of films critical of any religion. Indeed, in 1960 it awarded Burt Lancaster its best actor award for his performance in Elmer Gantry (also nominated for best picture), a film that was widely denounced by some religious organizations at the time as anti-Christian.