BBC documentary “Iran and the West” reviewed in Tehran
May 7, 2009
TEHRAN -- BBC documentary “Iran and the West” was reviewed by a number of Iranian experts during a session at the Resaneh Cultural Center on Monday.The three-part series was shown on BBC Two last February to mark the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The project involved collaboration with Press TV, Iran’s English language international television news channel.
This well-funded work analyzes the long struggle of Iran and the West to come together, which has been ongoing ever since the revolution.
The documentary presents interviews with a wide range of world leaders who reveal the inner dealings of all governing administrations over the past thirty years, both from within Iran’s own administration and from the Western counterparts. These include Vladimir Putin, Jimmy Carter, Mohammad Khatami, Bill Clinton, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Colin Powell, Ali Larijani, Farah Pahlavi, Madeline Albright, and Javier Perez among many others.
Britain-based Iranian scholar Majid Tafreshi, Press TV senior advisor Hassan Beheshtipur, series Iranian producer Mohammad Shakibania, and series consultant Nasser Hadian participated in the review session.
“There is a general concern (in Iran) that every film produced from abroad on Iran is bad and therefore no collaboration should be undertaken. However, I don’t think that is a correct view,” Tafreshi said.
“The main sponsors and producers of the series were not in Iran, but to the extent possible, ‘Iran and the West’ tried to present fairly the events that resulted in the victory of the Islamic Revolution and its aftermath,” he added.
“It is a enlightening experience promoting a balance between what the West wants to know about Iran and what Iran wants to say about itself to the West,” Tafreshi stated.
He said that many Iranian opposition groups living abroad and many of Iran’s foreign opponents were dissatisfied with the documentary.
“They argued that it was the image of itself Iran wants to show to the West,” he noted.
Beheshtipur referred to the bad image that the Western media has given to Iran and said that such propaganda has had its negative effect on public opinion.
However, he said, “It’s not fair to say that only the West is the culprit responsible for the negative effect.”
“Whatever is being published in the West about Iran is not a unified conspiracy against Iran. A part of the negative effect is the outcome of our own behaviors,” he noted.
Beheshtipur criticized the absolutism in Iranian documentary productions and compared them with similar productions in the West.
“The Western media in general and BBC in particular feature positive and negative aspects of a subject together in order to make their documentaries more believable to their audiences. They want to convince them that the producers are seeking the truth,” he said.
“The film is also trying to show that it is seeking the truth. Sometimes however, the truth is only partially revealed” he noted.
Mohammad Shakibania and Hossein Sharif were among the five helmers to direct the series “Iran and the West: The Pariah State,” “Iran and the West: The Man Who Changed the World”, and “Iran and the West: Nuclear Confrontation”.
Delphine Jaudeau, Paul Mitchell and Dai Richards were the BBC directors of the project.
“Influencing the image of Iran that was to be shown in the West was our reason for collaborating in the series,” Shakibania said.
“It was a great experience that an Iranian group could in some way be influential in presenting a part of our history. It is a great achievement,” he added.
“In general, as a member of the audience, I found it positive, especially for our image in the West,” series consultant Hadian said.
“The documentary doesn’t seem like it was produced by a foreign channel trying to remain as neutral as possible in making it,” he noted.