Iranian Actress Apologizes After Kiss-storm

'I'm so sorry for hurting feelings of some people,' Leila Hatami says after footage of her greeting Cannes festival president sparks outrage of authorities in Islamic Republic.

Leila Hatami poses at Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 22, 2014.
Iranian actress Leila Hatami poses at Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 22, 2014. AFP

An Iranian actress apologized after a video of her kissing the Cannes film festival's president on the cheek outraged authorities in her home country.

"I am so sorry for hurting the feelings of some people," Leila Hatami wrote in a letter to Iran's cinema organization, cited by Iranian news agency IRNA and reported by AFP.

Hatami wrote that she respects the Islamic code of public conduct, but that the elderly festival president Jacob had forgotten them, and thus her "pre-emptive action of hand shaking was fruitless."

"Although I am embarrassed to give these explanations, I had no choice but to go into details for those who could not understand the inevitable situation that i was stuck in," said the letter.

"In my eyes, he is certainly like an old grandfather who was also my host."

Hatami, a jury member at Cannes, was filmed and photographed greeting festival head Gilles Jacob in the traditional French way on Sunday. Tehran learned of the kiss, and the Islamic Republic's deputy culture minister, Hossein Noushabadi, accused Hatami of giving Iranians, especially Iranian women, a bad name.

"Those who attend international events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world," Noushabadi was quoted as saying on an Iranian state broadcaster's website.

In fact, said the deputy minister, Hatami – who starred in Iran's Oscar-winning film "The Separation" – shouldn't have even shown her face at Cannes.

"[The] Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence," he said, adding that the actress' "inappropriate presence" at the film festival clashed with Iranian religious customs.