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Iran plans response to 'Argo'

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM
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Canadians aren't the only ones who have been publicly questioning the authenticity of the storytelling in Argo.

Somewhat less surprisingly, Iran has also taken issue with the Best Picture-winning film, and has promised to put out its own, competing version of what really happened in Tehran in 1980.

Film director Ataollah Salmanian told the Persian news agency MNA in January he planned to use eyewitness accounts to write the screenplay for the film.

“The movie entitled The General Staff is about the 20 American hostages who were delivered to the United States by the revolutionaries,” Salmanian said.

“This film, which will be a big production, should be an appropriate response to the ahistoric film Argo.”

According to the New York Times, Salmanian's comments indicate he will hew to the official Iranian view of the hostage crisis, which positions Iranians as the heroes who helped the trapped Americans return to safety.

Argo director and star Ben Affleck called Iran's hostile response "a badge of honor".

"You have to understand, this is a sort of Stalinist regime in this place that is extremely repressive," Affleck told the Hollywood Reporter. "It's governing a nation full of millions of wonderful, amazing people, so to be part of this movie Argo that seems to have kids up and paying attention--so this Stalinist regime feels the need to sort of push back somehow, I think is a tremendous badge of honor."

(The armful of awards he's received for the film probably doesn't hurt either.)

Despite the film's accolades, historians generally agree that Argo minimizes the role of the "Canadian caper," in which six hostages were able to escape the entrapped U.S. Embassy and hide out at the home of the Canadian ambassador until they were smuggled out of the country with Canadian passports.

But in the event that The General Staff does get made, it probably won't stick to the Canadian version of events, either.

And despite a ban on screenings of Argo and sales of the DVD in Iran, underground DVD sellers told the Wall Street Journal that the title is "their best seller in years," to the tune of "several hundred thousand copies" of bootleg discs with Persian subtitles.

A film student who attended a screening at Sharif University said watching Argo is an act of defiance toward the government.

"People are indirectly saying to the government that they are tired of this hostile behavior and it's time for us to be friends with the world and the U.S. again."

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