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No life-of film on Ahmadinejad any time soon

Movie maker Oliver Stone had asked Iran for permission to film its president.

July 03, 2007|Borzou Daragahi | Times Staff Writer

CAIRO — Taking on the greedy barons of Wall Street wasn't enough. Neither was filmmaker Oliver Stone's probe of John F. Kennedy's assassination or his depictions of America's traumatic involvement in Vietnam.

In the end, the director's reputation as a critic of his nation's policies wasn't enough to get him official permission to make a movie about Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an official said. Stone may have anti-establishment street credibility, said an official close to Ahamdinejad, but he's still a card-carrying American.

"It is true that [Stone] is known as a dissident in the U.S., but he is still part of the Great Satan," media advisor Mehdi Kalhor told the Fars News Agency, according to a report on the English-language section of Baztab, a popular Iranian news site run by rivals of Ahmadinejad.

Stone requested permission to make a movie about Ahmadinejad several months ago, several Iranian filmmakers said last week. The news electrified Iran's nascent film scene, with directors reportedly lobbying the government to accept the proposal.

But Kalhor said Ahmadinejad firmly opposed allowing a U.S. filmmaker into his inner circle. Another Ahmadinejad adviser said on Saturday that the president would allow Stone to make a documentary about him only if the White House allowed an Iranian filmmaker to make one about President Bush.

"We believe that U.S. cinema is devoid of culture and that their art is only a stratagem," Kalhor said.

Despite poor relations between Washington and Tehran, most Iranians adore Hollywood fare. Iranians buy bootlegged DVDs of American movies from street vendors or rent them from entrepreneurs toting briefcases full of the latest films. Even state-controlled television airs Steven Seagal movies during holidays.

borzou.daragahi@latimes.com

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