Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cartoon of Life Under Ayatollahs Infuriates Iran

Here we go again, with seething over cartoons (hat tip: Ron).
A biting animation about a young girl's life under Iran's ayatollahs screened at Cannes Tuesday despite protests from Tehran of Western bias.

"Persepolis", one of 22 films competing for the festival's top award, is based on the eponymous comic-book series by Iranian Marjane Satrapi.

"I like the film better than the books," Satrapi told AFP.

The movie offers a child's eye look at Iran from the age of eight, just as the Shah is about to be evicted by the Islamic regime still in place today.

And if the critics' enthusiastic response is borne out, the black-and-white feature -- jointly directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud -- could have a good shot at the coveted Palme d'Or to be awarded Sunday.

Iran has slammed it as "an unreal picture of the outcomes and achievements of the Islamic revolution" and protested to France that the festival's decision to select it highlighted "the biased policies of domineering powers."
Well, isn't that just too damn bad. I just wonder whether this inconvenient truth will scare the judges away.
The only child of a politically-aware couple, Satrapi recounts her life in Tehran from 1978, when she was eight, to her years as a fiercely outspoken 14-year-old, when she was packed off to Vienna by her parents to avoid arrest, or worse.

She later returned to Tehran for art classes (where "nude" models wore chadors) and an unhappy marriage before emigrating to France.

Her work, full of wry humour as well as heartache, explores the split she felt between tradition and modernity, and details a life in which she was initially wearing jeans and listening to rock -- then forced to wrap up in a chador.

Brought up in a middle-class leftwing family, relatives and neighbours bring grisly tales of torture and whippings to the background of the Islamic revolution and the grinding Iran-Iraq war.

At an early age, Marji -- short for Marjane -- witnesses the social hypocrisy of the teachers and the neighbours who switch sides.

"How can you claim there're no political prisoners when, compared to the 3,000 detainees under the Shah, there're 300,000 under your regime?" she tells a religious studies teacher in the mid-1980s. "How can you lie like that?"

And, when told off by Islamist police for running down the street because it looks sexy, she quips: 'Well then just don't look at my ass!"

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