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U.S. cast for Satrapi's Persepolis announced


International Report by Darius KADIVAR


Produced by Kathleen Turner, Satrapi's Animated film Sets for US Release


Stars of the American Release of Persepolis (*) Š



Sean Penn and Iggy Pop have signed on as voice talent for the English-language version of Sony Picture Classics' toon "Persepolis." The recruits join the already-announced Gena Rowlands and Catherine Deneuve for the animated toon based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical, bestselling graphic novel growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution.


The lead character of Satrapi in the French version was Chiara Mastroianni, Deneuve's daughter, but unless further notice Kirsten Dunst star of Sophia Coppola's drama's ( Marie Antoinette, Virgin Suicides )will be doing the voice over for the English version. 


Penn will play Satrapi's long-suffering father while Pop will voice the role of the young girl's rebellious and politically active uncle.


You don't Change a Mother do you? Deneuve
On Adore Š


Work on the English-version dub will begin this summer. The Picture will be released Stateside in the fall and producers are trying to ready an English-language version in time for its preem at the Toronto Film Festival in September.


"I think it's very good that these two actors have accepted. It will give the film another boost," said Hengameh Panahi, Dreamachine co-topper, the new international sales company combining Panahi's Celluloid Dreams and Jeremy Thomas' Hanway Films.


Celluloid Dreams handled international sales of the pic, which was produced by Marc-Antoine Robert and Xavier Rigault of 2.4.7. Films; Kathleen Kennedy exec-produced, in co-production with France 3 Cinema, and brought Sony Pictures Classics on board to handle the U.S. release.


The Picture has been a smash in Gaul since its release. The Toon has grossed $3.7 million over two frames, and seen its release expanded from 199 prints to 370.



Sophia Coppola's recurrent Star, Kirsten Dunst is Optioned for the
Role of Satrapi in her Persian Odyssey through Iran's turbulent history

Š &



Though born Iran in 1969, Satrapi now lives in Paris. "Persepolis" has been at the center of a feud with Iranian authorities for its wry, satirical take on the oppressive life under the rule of the mullahs ever since its preem at Cannes, where it shared the Jury Prize with Carlos Reygadas' "Silent Light."


Iranian government officials slammed the Cannes jury's decision as an example of "Islamophobia," per Mehdi Kalhor, a cultural adviser to Iranian prexy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


The Bangkok Intl. Film Festival dropped the pic as its opener following a request from the Iranian embassy in Bangkok.


THE FATHER: Sean Penn will dub Satrapi's father. Penn visited
Iran in 2005 and
chronicled his Stay for the US Daily paper SFGate.
He was to greet
Iranian Dissident Akbar Ganji in Hollywood
upon his release.
Š & & SFGate



The US release of Persepolis is much expected this Fall. It is all the more interesting that it is probably the very first film about the Iranian Revolution and its social, historical and cultural effects on Iranian society. It is also a breakthrough for the Arts for  the Iranian Diaspora Community that has settled worldwide and particularly in Europe and the United States. Although the film remains strangely enough a French Film on an Iranian subject, it will escape no one that it is also a pertinent illustration of life in exile regardless of what community or ethnic group one could belong too. The already  International success of the comic books by the author turned director will certainly guarantee the films success off Seas. The reaction of the American audience to this film will certainly be of particular interest, given the current and past diplomatic crisis ( US hostages were held for 444 Days in Tehran by Islamic militants upon the victory of the Revolution 1979) between Iran and the United States.



Controversial Rock Star Iggy Pop to star as Uncle Anoush
in Satrapi's animated film.
eyeranian, Iggy Pop Official Website, Sony Pictures Classics


Marjan Satrapi's self derision, ironic humor and at times harsh outlook on life both in the West and in Iran nevertheless successfully carries an emotionally powerful and humanistic message through her film. In many ways the film seems to also have matured her both as an artist and an intellectual. Her hypersensitiveness or as the French would say her "écorché vive" side that was much more apparent in the comic book seems to have been replaced by a more balanced view of the events of 1979 that shook her country and the lives of many of her compatriots, either forced to exile or inner silence in order to survive. In addition the film allows a certain necessary distance between Mrs. Satrapi the author and Marjan the cartoon hero which may not have been entirely the case in the original comic book on which the animated film is based on. Persepolis, the film is indeed the result of two years of a fruitful collaboration of two minds and talents. That of Marjane Satrapi and co-director Vincent Paronnaud. An Iranian Woman and a Frenchman united by a common humor and complimentary style that enriches the story and its universal message.



Gena Rowlands is the widow of John Cassavetes (whose
most memorable Hollywood Role was that of Victor Franco
in the
Dirty Dozen   before becoming the great Independent
director / actor of his own films.) She often played in her
husbands movies. She is the mother of
Nick Cassavetes.



It should be noted that the French animation was created only after recording the voices of the actors and cast. It allowed more freedom and invention for the initial French cast unlike the English version which will only be dubbed for this purpose. The same could be said for any other language version. It may be a detail but it does have its importance in that the initial cast truly imposed their personal style and personalities to their animated characters. Apart from Catherine Deneuve nearly all the other characters will be replaced by an American Cast who are equally talented but may not entirely render the very French and Persian Humor that are clearly interconnected in the film including for the accents. Nevertheless Satrapi and Paronnaud's cinematic culture and interests do reflect in the choice of the American Cast. Sean Penn's and Gena Rowland's filmography is strongly associated to independent films and the Independent Art World to which the French Iranian duo director's belong to and admire. Rowland in particular like her French counter part Danielle Darrieux, is equally a film Legend and iconic figure of America's most respected Independent director John Cassavetes who spearheaded the "auteur" approach at odds with Hollywood Studio's. The choice of the other members of the American Cast is also pertinent. Iggy Pop a Rock Star to play the role of Satrapi's Communist Grandpa who also happens to have been a Qajar Prince may seem strange at first but it is also justified by Satrapi's invisible tribute to a music genre she actually cherishes: Punk and Hard Rock Music.  


 Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, the film also has an OscarŽ winning
potential. But who will definitively be cast for the character of Marjan
in the US Release of Persepolis ? The Suspense remains. Satrapi and
Chiara Mastroianni have developed a solid friendly relationship but
Kennedy is Executive Producer and may favor an American 
Dunst for the title role. Š & OscarsŽ Academy



As for the title role of Marjan being played by Kirsten Dunst the choice seems quite odd and yet justifiable. In many ways Kirsten Dunst is the quintessential American Teenage looking Star of Sophia Coppola's drama's that do find parallels with Satrapi's often dark and disillusioned humor. Marie Antoinette and Virgin Suicides are very much autobiographical in Coppola's filmography. Indeed the director of the Oscar Awarding Lost in Translation often depicts the malaise of her generation and the difficulties of communicating in a World that ignores its protagonists. Marie Antoinette is not in my opinion the most memorable movie on the Former beheaded Queen of France but it does take bold steps in film narration and historical depiction very much like Satrapi in the use of music and cultural anachronism's. Even if Satrapi would most probably have been a Revolutionary in 18th Century France, her Qajar inheritance ( True or False) would probably have made her understand if not share the lonely disillusionments of the French Queen's Royal upbringing.


However the choice of Dunst if confirmed may be more due to the American executive Producer Kathleen Kennedy who may logically prefer to invest on a trendy name and face in Hollywood albeit only recognizable through her voice.


The Artist and her Creation: Marjane Satrapi author of
Persepolis: A Story of a Childhood ŠL'association & Sony Pictures Classics


Also it should be noted that after receiving the Jury Prize at the 60th annual Cannes Film Festival, Sony Pictures may also have the ambition of imposing Persepolis in the Oscar Competition for 2008.


Whatever the ultimate choice for the American Cast, Persepolis should live up to the expectations of the English speaking audience which will hopefully share the enthusiasm of the French viewers and film critics that have justly hailed the film as a masterpiece.





Authors Notes:


Sony Pictures Classic : Official English Website for Persepolis


Recommended Readings:


Magic in the Making : Satrapi's Cinephilic choice for Persepolis Cast by Darius KADIVAR

Satrapi's Persepolis Soundtrack CD Released by Darius KADIVAR


An Independent Eye : Hengameh Panahi French Iranian Distributor/Producer by Darius KADIVAR


Iranian Pioneers in French New Wave Cinema by Darius KADIVAR


The Last Colony : Director Parvin Ansary on Italian Cinema by Brian Appleton


Sean Penn in Iran for the San Francisco Chronicle by Sean Penn

Recommended Viewing:


(*) Persepolis French Cast on talk show on French Channel Canal Plus. Satrapi and Host announce names of the American Cast including Kirsten Dunst to replace Chiara Mastroianni in the English dubbing.


About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and  Columnist for OCPC Magazine in LA and Paris.

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