Front Row nabs sensitive ‘Soraya’

Distributor acquires controversial feature

Middle East distributor Front Row Entertainment is diving into the deep end by acquiring the controversial feature “The Stoning of Soraya M.” from M Power.

Pic, which is directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, follows the buildup of events in an Iranian town that lead to the public execution of an unhappily married woman.

Front Row topper Gianluca Chacra is expecting to face numerous difficulties when the company actually tries to release the film across the region.

“It’s going to be very challenging and I’m not that confident we will get past all the censorship offices but I’m willing to try,” said Chacra. “There are big Iranian communities across the Middle East and this is an important story for Middle Eastern audiences that deals with human rights. It’s going to be crucial to get the support of festivals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

Front Row previously distribbed Marjane Satrapi’s animated feature “Persepolis.”

The pic, which offered a wry, satirical take on the oppressive life under the rule of the mullahs following the 1979 Iranian revolution, encountered numerous problems during its Middle East rollout. Pic was initially banned in Lebanon over worries it would offend supporters of Iran-aligned militant group Hezbollah. It was eventually released theatrically in the country after some delicate negotiations. Front Row also encountered a lengthy battle to get “Persepolis” a DVD release in the United Arab Emirates, where there is a sizeable Iranian population.