Update: See pics of Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard in hijab here.
They meekly submit. White House gives nod to their visit. (It sure sounds like visas were obtained with ease and dispatch...)
Courtesy of The Wrap.
But the trip took a tense turn as the Iranian News Agency reported that the art adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedenejad said that Hollywood must apologize for "insults and slanders" about Iranians in films.
"(Iranian) cinema officials will only have the right to have official sessions with... Hollywood movie makers when they apologize to the Iranians for their 30 years of insults and slanders," Javad Shamaghdari said.He added: "The Iranian people and our revolution has been repeatedly unjustly attacked by Hollywood," he said, citing '300' and recent Oscar nominated movie 'The Wrestler' as among offending films.
The Hollywood blockbuster hit '300', about the Greek and Persian wars, angered Iranians in 2007 for its portrayal of their historic ancestors as bloodthirsty.
Similarly 'The Wrestler' was heavily criticised for a scene of breaking and tearing of the Iranian flag by the picture's star, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke, the news agency reported. (editor's note: Reading this, I just might have to see this one.)"We will believe (US President Barack) Obama's policy of change when we see change in Hollywood too, and if Hollywood wants to correct its behaviour towards Iranian people and Islamic culture then they have to officially apologize," Shamaghdari added. The delegation was led by Ganis and included Annette Bening, Frank Pierson, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, and producer William Horberg. Ganis’s wife, Nancy Hult Ganis, said in an email that the State Department had approved a small delegation from Hollywood “for cultural purposes only.” But AMPAS spokeswoman Leslie Unger told the AFP that the visit was a "completely private initiative for educational and creative exchange and with no political agenda." Any visit to Iran would need approval from the State Department because the United States has no diplomatic relations with with that country, and maintains sanctions against it.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in an email that the report that the group was sent by the administration was “not true.” Regardless, the delegation is an unusual cultural opening toward Iran, and comes in the context of Obama’s promises during the campaign to start a dialogue with the country which has been a traditional enemy of the United States and its allies. The origin and the precise purpose of the delegation was still unclear. The Tehran Times reported that other bold-faced Hollywood names were there for a seminar, writing on Saturday: "Actress Alfre Woodard “Follow Me Home” (1996), Special Events Programmer and Exhibitions Curator Ellen Harrington, as well as Tom Pollock, the former Universal Pictures chairman, will also be attending the seminars" at a cinema studies house in the capital.
The group also will visit the Film Museum of Iran, a college of cinema, and several cinematic locations, the paper said. Iran specialist Reza Aslan, who advised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Iran during her presidential bid, said the initiative seemed odd, and could "backfire -- maybe not backfire, but could fail to have real positive impact."
Gee, ya think?