Magazine article Variety

Celluloid Diplomacy

Magazine article Variety

Celluloid Diplomacy

Article excerpt

Seeing Iran and the West engaging in back-and-forth diplomacy after years of sanctions and threats, John Marks, president of Washington-based NGO Search for Common Ground, long active in back-channel U.S.-Iran cultural diplomacy, believes that art can affect the political dialogue.

"Films can have a real impact in creating a climate in which the (nuclear) negotiations are more likely to be successful," he says. "American movies and movie stars have a cachet in Iran that most of us (in the diplomatic community) don't have; if Steven Spielberg wanted to lead an initiative, the Iranians would certainly welcome it."

Indeed, the U.S. is the world's top international market for Iranian films - though sanctions remain a major obstacle to distribution deals with the West.

Playing off this East-West give-andtake, popular Iranian comic Reza Attaran, in his Fajr-screened comedy "Red Carpet," also invokes Spielberg. …

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