News ID: 133295
Published: 0340 GMT December 20, 2015

Minister: Exclusion of Iranian epic 'Muhammad (PBUH)' from Oscar politically-driven

Minister: Exclusion of Iranian epic 'Muhammad (PBUH)' from Oscar politically-driven

Iran's Culture Minister Ali Jannati blasted the exclusion of Majid Majidi's latest movie 'Muhammad: The Messenger of God' from the list of Academy Awards nominees describing it as a political move.

"A number of events (such as Oscar) is politically influenced and this is nothing new as in some festivals we notice that some movies are praised whereas they do not deserve it," Jannati said on Sunday.

He reiterated that the Oscar nominees are selected for political reasons.

On September 25, Oscar Selection Committee chose the film to represent Iran in the upcoming Oscar race for the best foreign language film award.

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Majidi, has worked for more than seven years to produce what is only the second big-budget feature ever made about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The film, Iran's most expensive movie, was screened as the first and last flick at Canada's Montreal Film Festival in August, and received wide acclaim from Iranian and foreign film critics.

The movie tells the story of Muhammad (PBUH) from his birth until he reaches the age of 12, ending with his first visit to Sham or the Levant (Syria) where Bahira, a Christian monk, predicted he would one day become a prophet.

The 171-minute film is the first part of a trilogy on the life of the Prophet (PBUH).

Majidi has said he hopes the movie can correct the wrong perception promoted in the West about Islam.

The visually stunning film cost around $40 million (36 million euros) and took more than seven years to complete.

Majidi has said that the aim of his work is to restore the rightful image of Islam, which extremists have distorted. Unfortunately at this time the impression of Islam is that of a radical, fanatical and violent religion, which is not what it is about, he said in Montreal, where the film made its international premiere, hours after screening back home.

"The barbaric acts of terrorism conducted by terrorist groups under the guise of Islam are not related to Islam," he said, alluding to beheadings and destruction of cultural treasures by the ISIL terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. "Islam is a religion of peace, friendship and love, and I tried to show this in the film," he said.

Majidi has in his record the directing of films such as 'Children of Heaven' (1997), 'The Color of Paradise' (1999), 'Baran' (2001), 'The Willow Tree' (2005) and 'The Song of Sparrows' (2008) before his last film.

Iran won the Oscar in 2012 for the best foreign language film for 'A Separation' by Asghar Farhadi, which is about an Iranian couple who struggles over whether to leave the country or stay to care for an aging parent.

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