The Stoning of Soraya M.
A remote rural community; a beautiful, innocent woman betrayed by her husband, falsely accused of immorality and condemned to horrible death by a cruel male power structure that hides behind religion; her only ally a courageous, dignified older woman who, when she cannot stop the tragedy, bravely determines to tell the world.
If you're an entertainment maven in Los Angeles or New York, what's not to love? Except that it's not set in Puritan New England or contemporary Texas. And the dignified aunt isn't played by Susan Sarandon. The dialogue is mostly in Farsi, so it lacks the southern drawl that helps liberals identify the bad guys.
"The Stoning of Soraya M." is set in an Iranian village in 1986. The woman is the victim of Sharia law. It addresses misogyny, injustice, human rights abuses and narrow religiosity. It is anti-violence and deeply pro-life, in the broadest sense of the term. In short, as The Weekly Standards Stephen F. Hayes wrote, "it is an important film," and it should have received attention from the people who like to think of films as important. But the people who control Hollywood's most prestigious awards ignored it.
Editor's Note: The following was originally posted to Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on June 24. Perhaps of greatest note to NewsBusters readers is Tapson's reporting on the pronouncements of Daily Beast contributor and UC Riverside professor Reza Aslan that "There is no such thing as Sharia."
While Iranian-American protesters packed streetcorners in Westwood last Saturday afternoon in support of the revolution currently playing out in the streets of Tehran, an historical drama about stoning in Iran got underway at the Los Angeles Film Festival mere blocks away.
For the few who don’t know by now, The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s bestselling book, which relates the true story of a woman in a remote Iranian village, in the years after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, who is falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death by a mob desperate to cleanse themselves of this affront to their collective honor and to their religion. It’s not only a gripping story in its own right, but it shines a harsh spotlight on the almost unimaginable reality that the barbaric punishment of stoning still exists in the Iranian law code, despite a largely nominal 2002 moratorium, the result of pressure from Western human rights groups.
(Full disclosure, even though I’m not reviewing the film here: I’m close friends with the filmmakers Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, I provided Mpower Pictures with a bit of research on the project, I’m friends with other cast and crew and producers associated with the film, and I think stoning is bad. So don’t take my word for it when I say SorayaBig Hollywood’s John Nolte will be the most important, affecting film you’ll see all year. Instead seek out the multitude of reviewers who recommend the film, including and then see it for yourself.)
Following Saturday’s screening was a panel discussion, not so much moderated as simply hosted by Iranian novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner, who personally selected the film for the L.A. Film Festival. The panel also included Soraya’s writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh, starring actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Dr. Reza Aslan, billed as an Islamic scholar.
Leave it to New York Times liberal movie critic Stephen Holden to come down on "The Stoning of Soraya M," for stereotyping a couple of murderous, misogynist Islamists as...murderous misogynist Islamists.
Holden generally likes politically activist movies, especially left-wing documentaries that take aim at politically correct targets like big business and heartland hicks. By contrast, he's not fond of Israel or the Catholic Church, or evidently, movies about injustices committed against women in the Muslim world, like "The Stoning of Soraya M." Conservatives have embraced the movie, which might also provide a clue as to why Holden hates it. In calling it "lurid torture-porn," Holden echoes columnist Frank Rich's smear against "The Passion of the Christ" as "a joyride for sadomasochists."