Just a day after it was announced that Reza Mirkarimi's comedy A Cube of Sugar would represent Iran as its official foreign-language film entry, officials have called for a boycott of the 2013 Academy Awards. The move is a direct response to the U.S.-made anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims that sparked religious riots worldwide.
Culture minister Mohammad Hosseini also called for a wider boycott of next year's Academy Awards by all of the world's Muslim nations, The Guardian reports.
"I am officially announcing that in reaction to the intolerable insult to the Great Prophet of Islam we will refrain from taking part in this year's Oscars and we ask other Islamic nations to show their protest like this," Hosseini said in a statement on the ISNA state news agency. "This film was made in America and the Oscars are held there, and so far no official stance by the nation that made this film has been taken."
The move comes less than two months after a leading Iranian government official threatened to boycott the Venice Film Festival for what he said was a protest against oil sanctions imposed by the European Union. The boycott never happened.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat with CNN's Piers Morgan over the weekend, where Innocence of Muslims was among the topics of conversation. The leader condemned the film, though he stopped short of sanctioning the use of violence.
"Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly," Ahmadinejad told Morgan. "This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy. We also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world."
Filmed in 2011 under the title Desert Warriors, Innocence of Muslims was allegedly later redubbed with anti-Islamic dialogue by producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, aka Sam Bacile, who then released an incendiary trailer online. The movie was produced independently, though The Hollywood Reporter has learned that it was partially shot on a Paramount TV set once used for JAG.
An Academy spokesperson tells THR that the organization will not comment until after the foreign-language submission deadline of Oct. 1.