At a conference in Tehran, a controversial French lawyer, well known for defending and marrying Carlos The Jackal, has taken on Iran’s case and stated her intentions to file suit against Warner Brothers and other studios that have made damaging films.
“I’ll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country’s image, such as Argo,” she said, according to quotes carried by the semi-official Isna news agency.
Coutant-Peyre was speaking on Monday in Tehran’s Palestine cinema at the The Hoax of Hollywood conference, which was held following Argo’s win at the Academy Awards.
How the hell would that even work, you ask? Well, it begins with a process of Coutant-Peyre searching for court systems in various European countries and other international film markets that could support their case. If they find one, they can file suit there and engage whatever studio. Presumably this would disrupt their business there or even obligate them to pay damages and such. It’s a long shot, but it’s not as absurd as it sounds.
That said, the whole sabre-rattling show may be a result of a general cultural misunderstanding about the place of movies in Western culture and commerce.
“For many in the Iranian regime, it’s impossible to fathom that Hollywood is not a state-run entity, as it is in Iran,” said Omid Memarian, a New York-based journalist who has written on Iranian movies.
“Iranian officials therefore seriously perceive any cultural products about Iran, like movies, as a political statement and a part of what they call the west’s cultural invasion against Iran.”
Memarian said: “I think the fact that Michelle Obama awarded the movie’s Oscar has intrigued and magnified their suspicions about the involvement of politicians in making such movies, which they consider anti-Iran, or more accurately, anti–Islamic republic.”
It was not immediately clear whether the announcement about the lawsuit was merely state propaganda.
You should check out the whole piece at the Guardian about this fascinating mix of art, commerce, geopolitics, and propaganda. Deadline has an update stating that the idea is to get all kinds of litigious and go after a wide array of movies like The Wrestler and 300 as well. This will be a fascinating story to watch unfold.