An epic French documentary about the Holocaust, dubbed into Farsi, is to be broadcast on a satellite channel in Iran as part of a campaign to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims and to fight Holocaust denial.
Filmmaker Claude Lanzmann’s renowned nine-plus-hour film "Shoah" includes testimony from concentration camp survivors and employees about the slaughter of millions of Jews in Europe during World War II. He worked for 11 years on the film, which was released in 1985.
The Aladdin Project, a Paris-based group, says the film will be shown starting Monday over the next several days on the large Los Angeles-based satellite channel Pars.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned historical accounts of the Holocaust, and called for Israel’s destruction.
Lanzmann says the documentary may be an effective vehicle to counter the Holocaust denial.
"Truth is transmitted by (such) works …. It is works of art that are the true building stones of memory," Lanzmann said in an interview. At the very least, Iranians "will have the chance to form their own opinions" about the Holocaust.
"I’m capable of crying seeing an Iranian movie, a Japanese movie. Why wouldn’t the opposite be true?"
The Aladdin Project tried twice to get a green light from Iranian authorities to hold a news conference in Tehran about the killing of Jews during World War II, but received no response, Abe Radkin, the group’s executive director, told The Associated Press.
"If the Iranian government agrees to broadcast (the film) on a public channel, we would welcome it," Radkin said.
Lanzmann said his work has a universal message.
"It’s something that happened to the Jews, but in truth it (the film) is addressed to all of humanity. In some way, we can say that it happened to all of humanity."
TV satellite dishes are outlawed in Iran, but enforcement of the ban is spotty. Many people no longer worry about concealing the dishes. In recent months, authorities have targeted some sections of Tehran to remove dishes, but the sweeps appear to be isolated.
The Aladdin Project has also dubbed the film into Arabic and Turkish. It will be shown in Turkey at the Istanbul film festival next month, then a week later on the TRT channel, Radkin said.
The group had planned to broadcast the film on an Egyptian channel, but has put the plans on hold amid unrest that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
"We will wait a bit so that the political situation in Arab countries allows the broadcast of such a film," he said. "We need a peaceful atmosphere to concentrate on this message."
The Aladdin Project has backing from UNESCO, the educational and cultural arm of the United Nations.