Inside Move: ‘9/11’ opens Mideast doc doors

Moore pic passes censors in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt

Following its record-breaking opening in the U.S., “Fahrenheit 9/11” looks set to replicate its success across the Middle East.

Front Row Distribution, which is handling Mideast territories, reports that the doc has cleared censors in Lebanon, Syria, U.A.E, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Oman. It opened in Bahrain and U.A.E on July 14, and was slated to bow in Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Oman this week.

It’s the first time a doc has ever been released theatrically in the Arab world.

Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra says, “It’s going to be big. The only question is how big.”

He notes that 40 prints of “Fahrenheit” had been requested across the region, compared to none for Moore’s previous pic, “Bowling for Columbine.”

But the film, which lambastes the Bush administration for its ties to the Bin Laden family and Saudi oil interests and accuses it of deceiving the American public over the reasons for the war on Iraq, won’t be released in either Saudia Arabia or Iraq.

Saudi Arabia bans cinemas as men and women aren’t allowed to interact publicly. And the pic’s volatile subject matter makes it unsuitable for release in Iraq.

“It would cause more trouble,” Chakra says. “America is already facing a lot of difficulties in Iraq. A movie like this would only incite more violence out there.”

Chakra held a special preview of the film for specially invited media in U.A.E, including a number of Iraqis.

“They walked out during the film,” says Chakra. “They couldn’t stand the pain of seeing their people suffering.”

“Fahrenheit” could ultimately pave the way for more docs to be released theatrically. Front Row is already preparing to release Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” as well as Oliver Stone‘s Fidel Castro doc “Commandante.”

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