Intervention by Iran leaves Bangkok fest without opener

BANGKOK — The Bangkok International Film Festival has dropped the Cannes prize-winning animated movie “Persepolis,” which had been skedded as the new-look fest’s opening movie. Tuesday move followed a request from the Iranian Embassy in Bangkok.

“We have had a request from the ambassador to reconsider the screening of ‘Persepolis,’ and since this could be a matter of international relations, we decided not to show the film,” said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayutthaya of Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“It is a good movie in artistic terms, but we have to consider other issues that might arise here.”

“Persepolis” was originally slated to be the fest’s opening film on Jul. 19. With the cancellation, the festival still has no opening film with only three weeks left.

Helmed by Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian cartoonist living in France, “Persepolis” tells the autobiographical story of the director when she was growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution in the 1970s. Pic won the Jury Prize in Cannes.

“It’s too bad Thai people won’t be able to see this film,” said chief programmer Kriangsak Silakong.

The Iranian Cultural Attaché in Bangkok declined detailed comment and said only that the matter should now be “laid to rest.”

Without “Persepolis,” the BKIFF still has over 100 films on its list. Besides the international competition and ASEAN competition, the fest will feature sections including Windows of the World, Documentary & Shorts, Asian Cinema and Thai Panorama, as well as a Luis Bunuel retrospective.

Among the highlights in windows of the world category are Fatih Akin’s Cannes-winning “The Edge of Heaven,” the Cannes’ Critics Week’s pic “XXY,” Amos Gitai’s “Freezone,” Chistoph Honore’s “Dans Paris” and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus.”

The Asian Cinema section will showcase a number of films from China, including “Lost in Beijing,” “Raised From Dust,” “Luxury Car,” “The Basement,” “Getting Home” and “The Other Half.”

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