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Rotterdam drops van Gogh movie

Security forces fear terrorist threat to fest

ROTTERDAM — The Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam has pulled “Submission, Part I,” directed by slain Dutch filmer Theo van Gogh, for “security reasons.”

The short was to be part of a debate on freedom of speech in films at the IFFR on Sunday as well as an homage to van Gogh. He was killed in November allegedly by a Muslim angered by the film, which accuses Islam of promoting violence against women.

Executive producer Gijs van Westelaken pulled the pic — the first time in the fest’s 34-year history a film has been withdrawn for such a reason — despite pleas from Rotterdam Mayor Ivo Van Opstelten to keep it in.

Van Westelaken said he’d been advised by the Dutch government not to screen the film.

“People are saying I’m giving in to terrorism,” he said. “I can take the risk for myself, but I can’t take the risk for my employees and others.”

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On Wednesday, the fest’s opening day, the accused Mohammad Bouyeri was formally charged with premeditated murder and 14 other counts.

“Submission” was scripted by former Somalian Muslim and now Dutch parliamentarian Ayan Hirsi Ali and was shown on Dutch TV in August. The fictional piece contained scenes in which verses from the Koran were written on the naked body of an abused Muslim woman.

Hirsi Ali, who, like van Gogh, received numerous threats after the film aired, has been in hiding since the filmer’s death but was flown back into the country for the arraignment. The trial is expected to last months.

Westelaken is at Cinemart, the IFFR co-funding sidebar, to find backing for a project he’s calling “Triple Theo,” an English-language remake of three of van Gogh’s pics, “Interview,” “1-900” and “Blind Date.”

Van Gogh’s political thriller “06/05,” based on the assassination two years ago of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, will premiere at Rotterdam — it bowed worldwide on the Internet in December. “Cool,” which bowed in September, will also screen at Rotterdam.

Prior to the unspooling of “06/05,” van Gogh shingle Column will present its first Van Gogh Golden Cactus prize, “to be awarded to the filmmaker jurors see as the most maverick, the most gutsy” of the year.