According to London's Guardian and a press release issued by the National Iranian American Council, the NIAC forced significant changes in the upcoming movie “Crossing Over.” The movie's plot featured an Iranian family, and all scenes relating to an honor killing and the phrase “family honor” were removed after “ongoing conversations” with the director.
If “significant changes” were not made, the NIAC threatened that the film would “generate serious backlash against the Iranian American community.”
After the complaint, the producer “immediately contacted” the NIAC and “agreed to take its concerns into consideration.” Even more surprising was how much access and influence the NIAC had over the Weinstein film starring Sean Penn and Harrison Ford (my emphasis throughout):
NIAC later submitted its analysis and suggestions to the production team, which changed elements of the script and even re-shot certain scenes. The final product, the director says, does not include any reference to "family honor" and does not depict an honor killing.
That is a lot of influence. The Guardian expanded why the NIAC was upset:
"Honour killings are accepted in some Middle Eastern cultures but not accepted in Iranian culture," NIAC president Trita Parsi said. "They sometimes happen in remote areas of Iran, but there are no cases of Iranians doing this in the US."
"While we believe strongly in freedom of expression, we also believe in the importance of constructive dialogue between artists and the communities they seek to portray," a Weinstein Company spokeswoman said. Crossing Over opens in the US later in the year.
Really? Weinstein believes in “constructive dialog” with the communities they portray? Where was this “dialog” when Weinstein made “Dogma,” a movie critical of Catholicism (but funny nonetheless)? Other ethnic/religious groups are not given the same consideration in Hollywood and have accepted movie inaccuracies. The IRA kept the violence out of the US, but that didn't deter Hollywood, as with “Blown Away's” IRA bombings in Boston.
Rather than address the honor killings and violence against Muslim women, the NIAC worried about PR and their “true achievements” at the close of their press release:
NIAC president, Dr. Trita Parsi, attributed the success to the power of outreach and dialogue. "The Iranian-American community should engage in dialogue with directors and producers in Hollywood to ensure that the depiction of Iranian Americans reflect the community's true achievements," he said.
Notice the similar wording to Weinstein's comment. I'm sure he'll have “constructive dialog” to ensure “Dogma” director Kevin Smith's upcoming horror movie set among Christian fundamentalism, “Red State,” will “reflect the community's true achievements.”
Of course, that won't happen, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Hollywood screams about artistic integrity until the “right” group complains, then they bend over backwards to appease. Although it would be nice for a non-liberal slant in a movie now and then, Smith should be able to make his movie the way he wishes, poetic license intact, unless, of course he casts Ben Affleck—then all bets are off. No justice, no peace.
**Image by Jason Decrow/AP
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