Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oliver Stone/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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.

9 comments:

Brn said...

Thanks for sharing this. I had read about this story from the report in the NY Times and blogger Ann Althouse a few days ago. I'll try to point her to your version of the story.

The quote that Mr. Stone gave the Times makes him sound very gracious if he was the one who broke off the deal.

secretdubai said...

How sad and what a missed opportunity.

I think it is clear from his conduct over the past years that Ahmedinajad is not only a poor international statesman (not an international statesman at all in fact) but something of a fool. And this just confirms it. Even if the people surrounding him are responsible, well, what kind of leader surrounds himself with fools?

At the end of the day it's the Iranian people I feel most sorry for, because they are the ones that suffer under this leader, and will probably suffer under Iran's current regime for decades to come.

atlasiali said...

I wonder how people comment on things they don't know.
1. Oliver Stone. why oliver stone? he is Jewish. or didn't you see his version of Persia in The Alexander? Out of millions of people in Hollywood how come Oliver Stone is selected to make a "Documentary" about Iran? looks funny to me.
2. You are expressing your anger in a very childish way.
3. For people like SecretDubai who just talk, as an Iranian i think Ahmadinejad has done a good job for people inside of Iran.
You might not know but every politician on earth knows that Iranian presidents are not Decision makers in Iran's foreign affairs. they are just following orders given by Iranian supreme leader. (Higher position than president)
4. I think Sheikha M is suffering from Over Self Confidence. you don't know Farsi. the contacts and links you had are people with bad reputation. And Do you think convincing such a president of 70 million population is an easy thing?
Finally, DID OLIVER STONE EVER MADE A DOCUMENTARY? oh, 1 in his life, in 1998. please see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000231/

SecretDubai, We can handle it.

isabella said...

sheika you are not, and AD is not las vegas at all. to me you seems a overwhelmed expat, that gushes around of having local friends, take pic with sheiks and believes to have conquered Arabia. too superficial to be of any good....

Sheikha M. said...

I just think it's unfortunate...as it was a missed opportunity for Pres. Ahmadinejad to say what he wanted to say.

It does not really matter if one does or does not like the director/presenter/ets. If the info is presented in a fair forum, let the viewer decide.

Isabell, as you don't know me, perhaps it is wise not to make comments like that.

Did you know we arranged to send some UAE film school students to LA to meet with industry professionals? All but one of the students had never been to US/LA and they had an amazing time, learning about the film business. Not to mention, it was great that the LA side got to meet students from all over the GCC.

Guess how many local UAE sponsors got on board? One...who pulled out at the last moment. How can there ever be an exchange of ideas if people don't get the opportunity to meet and talk?

Did you know that Sir Ben Kingsley and crew came here as a benefit for charity, and that while here, he gave a free lecture to a full house of University students in AD?

This cost me personally a lot of time and money, not to mention calling in favors with associates in Los Angeles. Want to know how much money I made?...Nothing. Why did I do this?...because I really feel that as an American expat, one DOES have a responsibilty to represent the BEST qualities of their country.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but at the end of the day there are 2 kinds of people, those who talk about doing things...and those who actually do things. I know which group I am in.

nick said...

Sheikha,

Good intention, but not well played.

I understand you gauged interest from Oliver Stone before ensuring that the the Iranian government would accept him.

I abhor Ahmedinejad, but contrary to what Secret says he is not a fool but an incredibly able demagogue (which makes him all the more dangerous).

You handed him on a silver plate a PR op he couldn't refuse.

IMHO next time split the docu in two parts:
what Iranians think/say about the US / what the Americans think/say about Iran. Juxtapose it during editing by balancing the two extremes.

1. Get a bootlicking (sandal-licking?) Anti-American director approved by Iran and to film the Iranian part. Throw in some moonbats like John Pilger or Robert Fisk for good measure.

2. Get a Western director to film the other part. Contrast Fisk with Samuel Huntington.

Conclusion:
You can only beat a demagogue with his own weapons. Welcome to the Middle East.

russells@teapot said...

Did you really thought that Ahmadinejad and O.Stone fits together? This shows that you have poor historical and political knowledge. Besides Stone stands for manipulation of history and violent effects just for commercial purpose. Political fundamentalists don't like dealing politics in commercial manner. And Ahmadinejad don't like Americans and he don't like Jews. Stone Father was Jew. You should have considered all this. Pass to my newly started blog to get an idea what I'm talking about.

russells@teapot said...

Did you really thought that Ahmadinejad and O.Stone fits together? This shows that you have poor historical and political knowledge. Besides Stone stands for manipulation of history and violent effects just for commercial purpose. Political fundamentalists don't like dealing politics in commercial manner. And Ahmadinejad don't like Americans and he don't like Jews. Stone Father was Jew. You should have considered all this. Pass to my newly started blog to get an idea what I'm talking about.

The Lady said...

Despite the comments here, I still think your intentions were, and still are very noble, and I wish you success.

Don't let the ignorant fools knock you down.