OK, usually I don't say much, but this has really pissed me off, as what The Iranian President's office put put there is 100% BS.
How do I know? Because this is my project. This is what happened:
Last year, after The President issued his "Letter to the American people," he stated that "There needed to be an open dialogue between Iranians and Americans." I qualify, I'm American and in the entertainment business.
So I thought, "Great, let's do a documentary." The more I thought about it, I realized the only director who would be able to do this and do an excellent job was Oliver Stone.
I contacted Mr. Stone and he expressed an interest. Then I contacted Iranian producer Mohammad Nikbin and he has the liaison with the President's office. Of a strange coincidence, Mohammad's wife, director Tahminah Milani, was arrested a few years ago in Iran (prior president) because of one of her films.
While the censorship board in Iran had approved it her film, somehow there was a misunderstanding and she was arrested. Really strange, there was a petition from International film makers calling for her release and apparently Mr. Stone was on the petition, so I understand.
Anyway, Mohammad spent a lot of time pushing this forward and things looked good. Then Mr. Stone contacted me and said that due to a new scheduling conflict, he could not do it when we had planned, so he would have to drop out. So I contacted Mohammad, and the contact person he had given me in the President's office and gave them the update. I thought perhaps we would regroup with a new director. End of story...
3 weeks later, the news relates that the President's office sent a message to Mr. Stone saying Mr. Stone had been refused and was part of "The Great Satan." No such message had EVER been sent, until it was published in the news. They had been informed that the project, with Mr. Stone on board would not go forward and had said NOTHING.
It is really unfortunate that something which in my opinion would have not only been really interesting, but provided a fair forum for President Ahmadinejad, was turned into a political statement. If he feels it is so important to have an open dialogue, the answer from his office does not express this! Even if President Ahmadinejad personally did not care for some of Mr. Stone's films, it is for certain that having him on board as director for this documentary would have presented President Ahmadinejad fairly.
So much is said about Western news not giving the other side a fair shake...but it works on both sides. I would still like to see this documentary get made, as I have nothing but admiration for the Iranian people and they have an amazing film community.