Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Welcome to the 'free' world

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has been denied a visa for the New York Film Festival just because he is Iranian. The refusal to grant Abbas Kiarostami a visa should appall all Americans, not just because of the slight to a director whom many in the world film community of critics and directors consider one of the greatest now working, but because it calls into question how much the Bush administration knows about the Middle East, and how committed it is to encouraging the ideas and values of democracy, which is what will ultimately determine the success of the war on terror and our own future safety. This prompted Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki to boycott the festival and issue the following statement: "Not with anger (which has never brought anything good)but with deep sorrow ... I, too, am forced to cancel my participation. If international cultural exchange is prevented, what is left? The exchange of arms?"

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