Ottawa Sun – -
January 23, 2011
Hey Iran, you?re not going to be happy with me. I?ve just watched the film Iranium, the one your embassy requested Library and Archives Canada not screen last week.
The story of the screening?s withdrawal has been widely discussed after Ottawa organizer Fred Litwin was told it was cancelled due to protest threats and complaints from the Iranian embassy.
?This is a real innocuous movie,? Litwin states.
And he?s right.
It begins with a history of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, that saw Iran become a theocratic dictatorship encouraging schoolchildren to chant ?Death to Israel? and ?Death to America? while also seeing its leader insist that Islam ?will conquer all the mountains of the world.?
It proceeds to highlight President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?s rise to power, the country?s desire to develop nuclear capabilities and the populace?s growing disdain at their leaders.
Anyone who feels the film is unfairly critical of Iran, which seems to be the embassy?s issue, can of course exercise the same rights as Iranium?s filmmakers have: To produce their own film.
The interview sources are prominent ? Bernard Lewis from Princeton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN
John Bolton, and more ? and the narration is provided by Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, whose family fled Iran in the wake of the revolution.
The sound and editing are obviously intended to provoke worry in viewers and while some of the worst-case scenarios discussed (like Iran employing an electromagnetic pulse to disable North American electrical sources) are far-fetched, most horrible acts from the past are far-fetched, but that didn?t stop them from happening. Any worry would not be without cause.
?I want to encourage debate,? says Litwin, who has been running screenings for several years and plans an evening on the Caledonia conflicts as his next event.
Asked about his dream event, he muses on bringing European politician Geert Wilders to Ottawa, who Litwin believes is widely misunderstood.
?If you want to ask some tough questions great,? he states, encouraging everyone to attend. He just doesn?t like it when protesters scream down speakers instead of challenging them at the microphone.
He thinks the solution to free speech conflicts, either the local Dire Straits incident or the international Danish cartoons, is to continue exposing people to these things.
?We have to publish so much of it that it can?t be responded to.?
Flood the markets so protesters learn that free expression isn?t negotiable.
The second most important lesson I took from the film was how we must be wary of theocratic leaders and cannot presume they are rational actors. If someone believes this world is only a way station towards paradise can we trust them with nuclear weapons?
But the most important lesson is that what matters most in distraught countries is the people.
I know a talented artist who came to Canada from Iran after his uncle was publicly murdered for his art. To not screen a piece of art because it upsets the embassy is to dishonour those Iranians who have died for liberty or continue to sacrifice their safety in the name of freedom.
It?s baffling that so many people still don?t understand the basic premises of liberty. Your rights do not include the right to not be offended.
Especially when some people?s barometer of offence is so low it includes cartoons.
The film has been rescheduled for Feb. 6, 7 p.m. at Library and Archives Canada. Heritage Minister James Moore plans to attend. More information can be found at www.freethinkingfilmfest.ca. I recommend you attend.
This article was originally published here.