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Iran Planning Lawsuit Over 'Argo'

Country upset with 'unrealistic portrayal' in Oscar-winning film

Ben Affleck in 'Argo'
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
March 12, 2013 1:15 PM ET

Ben Affleck overcame his Best Director snub at the Oscars by taking home Best Picture honors for Argo, but not everyone is pleased with the spy flick. Iran is planning a lawsuit over the film and is unhappy with its allegedly "unrealistic portrayal" of the country, according to the Associated Press. French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who counts Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez – a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal – among her clients, is currently in Iran to meet with officials over how to approach the lawsuit.

Argo tells the story of the CIA-assisted escape of six embassy staffers who took refuge in the home of a Canadian ambassador following the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days, but using a fake movie as a cover story, the staffers in hiding were able to escape. After Argo won top honors at the Academy Awards, Iran dismissed the film as pro-CIA, anti-Iran propaganda.

Q&A: Ben Affleck on Directing 'Argo' and Surviving Hollywood

Though Iranian theaters aren't showing the film, many have been able to see the film through bootleg DVDs. The film exposed a divide between those who took part in the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the younger generation who weren't around for the movement. A group of Iranian cultural officials and movie critics screened Argo for a closed audience yesterday in Tehran, pushing Iran to file the lawsuit.

The meeting in Iran, titled "The Hoax of Hollywood," discussed the legal aspects of filing the lawsuit and called Argo a "violation of international cultural norms." They later released a statement saying that "awarding an anti-Iran movie is a propaganda attack against our nation and entire humanity." The statement didn't clarify on the claims of "unrealistic portrayal," but officials have called the film "too violent." They also expressed concerns that additional reasons for the 1979 crisis were ignored, including lingering resentment against the U.S. for a CIA-aided coup in 1953 that brought down democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in favor of the pro-Western Iranian monarchy.

Iran has had plenty of complaints for Hollywood in the past. The country boycotted the Oscars this year, and in 2009 the government demanded an apology from a group of visiting actors and industry officials, saying films like 300 and The Wrestler were "insulting" to the country.

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