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Hollywood Reporter’s Q &A with Sid Ganis & Annette Bening



Duo discuss their recent AMPAS-sponsored trip to Iran.

By Gregg Kilday
March 15, 2009

Hollywood Reporter- During the first week of March, a delegation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, led by president Sid Ganis, traveled to Iran to meet with filmmakers at the invitation of Iran's House of Cinema. The group -- Ganis along with Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, writer-directors Frank Pierson and Phil Robinson, producers William Horberg and Tom Pollock, the Academy's director of exhibitions and special events Ellen Harrington and documentarian James Longley, who already was in Iran working on a project -- met with their counterparts for a series of seminars, screenings and Q&As in Tehran and took time for excursions to Shiraz and Esfahan.

Just as the cultural exchange was beginning, though, it was thrust into the international spotlight when Javad Shamaqdari, the art and cinema adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, issued a statement, demanding an apology from the Hollywood contingent for "for insults and accusations against the Iranian nation" in movies like "300," which depicted the Persian defeat at Thermopylae. and "The Wrestler," which included a character called himself "The Ayatollah."

"Representatives of Iran's film industry should only have an official meeting with representatives of the Academy and Hollywood if they apologize for the insults and accusations against the Iranian nation during the past 30 years," Shamaqdari said.

Although it appeared to be a dramatic development, it had no impact during the days that followed. Their hosts, according to the Academy, asked for no apology and none was given. Ganis and Bening, who returned to Los Angeles last week, discussed the trip. (Click here to read more.)

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