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©AP / Ben Affleck
© AP / Ben Affleck
Iran scoffs at Oscar-winning 'Argo'
By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP)  Iran's state TV dismissed the Oscar-winning film "Argo" on Monday as an "advertisement for the CIA," and some Iranians called the award a political statement by America for its unflattering portrayal of the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

And while "Argo" has not appeared in any Iranian cinemas, there has been no shortage of buzz from those who saw the movie through bootleg DVD networks.

Bing: 'Argo' wins Best Picture

The discussions over "Argo" in Iran have often pried open a generational divide: Iranians who took part in the 1979 Islamic Revolution picking apart the portrayals of Tehran during the time, and Iranians too young to recall the events getting a different view of the upheavals.

"I want to know what the other side is saying," said Shieda, a 21-year-old University of Tehran student, who gave only her first name to avoid possible backlash for speaking with foreign media.

Tehran City Council member Masoomeh Ebtekar -- who was one of the students who occupied the U.S. Embassy and acted as the Iranian students' spokeswoman -- says the film exaggerates the violence among crowds that stormed the compound in November 1979.

Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days, but a handful of embassy staff were sheltered by the Canadian ambassador. Their escape, using a fake movie as a cover story, is recounted in "Argo."

Ebtekar insists the hostage takers were mostly students, but other accounts suggest militants and members of the Revolutionary Guard were closely involved in the crisis.

Actor-director Ben Affleck "goes and shows scenes of a very violent and very angry mob throughout the film," Ebtekbar said. "It is never mentioned that these are a group of students."

The semiofficial Mehr news agency called the Oscar "politically motivated" because first lady Michelle Obama, from the White House, joined Jack Nicholson via video link in Los Angeles to help present the Best Picture prize.

Iran's state TV called the movie "an advertisement for the CIA."

More: Best and worst moments from the Oscars

Iran's culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini, said Hollywood has "distorted history" as part of what Iranian officials call a "soft war" of cultural influence in Iran.

But retired teacher, Reza Abbasi, who saw the revolution first-hand, said: "I know Hollywood usually changes reality to make it attractive for movie lovers, but more or less it was close to the realities then."

Others say "Argo" also shows the need for Iranian filmmakers to deal more with issues from the revolution.

The moderate Hamshahri newspaper said the movie "targeted the culture and civilization of Iran," but is worthwhile for Iranians to see a different perspective of the events that led to the collapse of relations between the U.S. and Iran.

"Iranian audiences are seeing a new version of the events for the first time," said a commentary in the newspaper. "This has been a weak point for our TV and cinema industry, which has not produced anything about the (US Embassy storming) after more than three decades."

In downtown Tehran, bootleg DVDs of "Argo" sell for about 30,000 rials, or less than $1.

Iran's state-run film industry boycotted this year's Oscars in the wake of a U.S.-made Internet video clip that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad and set off protests across the Muslim world.

In February 2012, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Film for "A Separation," the first such prize for Iran. A month earlier, Iranian authorities ordered the closure of the House of Cinema, an independent film group that had operated for 20 years, and counted Iran's top filmmakers, including Farhadi, among its members.

"In my opinion, it's a nice movie from technical aspects, and it was on the scale of Hollywood movies, but I don't think it was worth a nomination for Oscar and other awards," said Mohammad Amin Sharifi, a movie fan in Tehran.

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Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
77Comments
Feb 25, 2013 7:14AM
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Does any civilized person give a damn about Irans opinion of anything?
Feb 25, 2013 7:50AM
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Yeah, well, for Iran to soft soap the events of the hostage taking by saying it was "mostly students" is just absurd.  Do they think we in the US are ignorant people?  For the hostages to be held for 444 days, the events had to be state sanctioned (and were).  No one in the Iranian government came to the aid of US diplomats being held by "students".  I remember the events of that period and saw just how mob crazy these wacked out religious people were.  It was violent, it was ugly, and it was an act of war to storm the sovereignty of the US Embassy.  These zealots were crazy violent, and they still are today.
Feb 25, 2013 7:39AM
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Well wishes to the iranian people who hope for piece and freedom. the iranian dictatorship will burn in hell one day.

Feb 25, 2013 7:45AM
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"I want to know what the other side is saying," said Shieda, a 21-year-old University of Tehran student, who gave only her first name to avoid possible backlash for speaking with foreign media."

That say everything you need to know about Iran...
Feb 25, 2013 7:31AM
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Iran can pound sand, this film down played the events.  These were not students they were military soldiers they were terrorists.  Anyone who thinks else wise.  If we had at time a president with a pair these so called students would have felt the sharp point of a bayonet.
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