In the midst of Iran’s prestigious 31st Fajr International Film Festival, which recently awarded its top prize to Iranian filmmaker Behnam Behzadi’s family drama “The Rule of Accident,” an unfortunate parallel event is being conducted called “Hollywoodism and Cinema,” which, by all accounts, is conservative Islamic propaganda aimed at demonizing Jews, Hollywood and Jewish Hollywood. The conference is making news on a number of fronts: the Western Media loves to highlight stories that show off Iran’s more wacky ideologues; and there are also unsubstantiated reports that Malcolm Shabazz, Malcolm X’s grandson, was arrested by the FBI on his way to Tehran to attend the conference. (Can some crime reporter please follow up on this?)
It’s a shame that Fajr, an esteemed cinema event which has heralded the work of important Iranian filmmakers, such as Ashgar Farhadi (“A Separation”) and Majid Majidi (“Song of Sparrows”), hasn’t distanced itself more from the conference, which according to an announcement on Fajr’s wesbite, is set to concentrate on examining the production of “anti-Iranian and anti-Islamic films,” “strategies to encounter the domination Cinema,” and “Hollywood and Zionism Cinema.”
The funny thing about the conference is that I totally agree with the idea that “Argo” promotes Islamophobia and anti-Iranian sentiment, as I’ve argued elsewhere. So there is total validity to these claims. But when they’re couched in such obviously anti-Semitic and paranoid extremist fundamentalist beliefs, as evidenced by such panel titles as “Hollywood and Depiction of Moral Values,” “Portrayals of Jews in Hollywood,” and “September 11 from Hollywood’s Angle: Psychological Elements, Public Deception,” the claims lose their validity.
If Iranian conservatives were smarter, they’d present their views in more subtle, sophisticated and less hyperbolic terms. Hollywood is dangerously imperialist, capitalist, and xenophobic. But why do they have to conflate those issues with some worldwide Zionist conspiracy?