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Dolby deaf to Iran's "Offside"

TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (Mehr News Agency) -- The London office of the U.S. company Dolby Laboratories Inc. refused to sell its services to "Offside", the latest film of Iranian director Jafar Panahi, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Monday.

Celluloid Dreams, the French distributor of film demanded the services from the company, which said in response that they will never let the film utilize Dolby facilities.

Several Iranian websites have faced problems due to boycotts organized by some U.S. companies over the past several months.

"The countries used to exclude cultural affairs from their extensive political conflicts up till now, but such a policy adds a new dimension to the U.S. crimes against the Iranian people," said Panahi.

"As nothing could sabotage production of the film in Iran, we, in collaboration with the production crew, are trying to make the film technically ready in line with international standards for Iranian people," he added.

Last July, director Davud Tohidparast accused Panahi of plagiarizing the main plot of his screenplay "Shirin" for "Offside", but Panahi was exonerated.

"Offside" is about a girl who attempts to enter Tehran's Azadi Stadium dressed as a boy in order to watch a big football match but she is caught and arrested because women are not allowed to enter the stadium.

Panahi plans to screen his film at the upcoming Fajr festival and also intends to premiere it some time around the beginning of the World Cup 2006.

In 2003, Panahi was invited to the 39th Chicago International Film Festival for the screening of his "Crimson Gold" but refused the invitation because of the law requiring fingerprinting of Iranians at U.S. airports. Written by Abbas Kiarostami, the film won a Gold Hugo award at the festival.

"Crimson Gold" and Panahi's previous film "Circle" have never received permission for screening in Iran due to some restrictions enforced by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. However, his first feature-length film, "The White Balloon", was shown in Iran and won several awards at international festivals.

... Payvand News - 12/13/05 ... --

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