IRANIAN DIRECTOR URGES FILMMAKERS TO BECOME “MESSENGERS OF JUSTICE”
While conspicuously avoiding specifics, Iranian director Majid Majidi has hit out at “media outlets that disguise wickedness as goodness … present crimes as justice.” As reported by the English-language Tehran Times, Majidi, whose film, Children of Heaven, was nominated for a best-foreign-language-film Oscar in 1999, told the Istanbul World Forum, that filmmakers could be “messengers of justice and goodness,” essentially doing the work of prophets. “Before us in the world of cinema, masters such as De Sica in Bicycle Thieves, Fellini in La Strada, Kurosawa in Seven Samurai, John Ford in The Grapes of Wrath, and many other did so. We can also do it,” Majidi said. The newspaper said that Majidid is currently directing Muhammad, which it described as “a big-budget film that will tell the life story of the prophet of Islam from the age of 12 until his appointment to prophethood.” Left unmentioned is the fact that some Islamic fundamentalists, mostly Sunni Muslims, contend that any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous; Iranian Muslims, mostly Shi’ites, generally take a more liberal view of the matter, particularly when it comes to depicting Muhammad as a young man, before he became the prophet. Also left unmentioned in Majidi’s talk was the decision by Iranian authorities to boycott this year’s Oscars to protest against the motion picture academy’s failure to speak out against the anti-Islam video, The Innocence of Muslims.