first heard of Crossing Over, I wondered why anyone thought a feature-length
film about communicating with the dead would work. About two milliseconds later
when I actually read the description of it, I thought the border/immigration
drama starring Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, and Sean Penn would be notable given
the convenient rehashing of the issue as the 2008 elections neared, even if it was
likely to throw a Hollywood sheen over the
complexities of the problem. What I didn’t see coming is that the film would be
making waves with other constituencies before it even had a chance to piss off border-skittish
Americans or Hispanic immigrants.

the film features featured an Iranian character who disapproves of his
sister dating a Hispanic man. So much so that he takes her out with “an honour
killing” as is supposedly demanded by his faith. But the National Iranian American
Council got wind of this and made a stink because they think it unfairly
characterizes Iranian-Americans. After a bit of back-and-forth, unspecified
changes were made to the scene.

Perhaps writer/director
Wayne Kramer does get the cultural details wrong – after all, this is a
practice that is uncommon (in America,
at least) and has never been attached to Iranians in the United States. And
as an African-American male, I’m certainly sensitive to having the rare
onscreen portrayal of your ethnic group be a negative one. But I’m not at all
comfortable with this sort of stuff getting into the filmmaking process as the film is being made. I think it’s
game to react to something once the creator is finished, and you have every right
to be offended. At least you’re seeing it fully in context as intended (well
assuming you even watch the film before marshalling your advocacy group, which
happens far less than you’d think). But this takes a step too close to
filmmaking by committee, which aint too cool, frankly.