A documentary about Anne Frank was secretly screened in Iran, a country whose leaders have openly questioned and denied the Holocaust.
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“Anne Frank: Then and Now” was shown to film students and a professor in a provincial theater. The film did not have government approval, and viewers risked being imprisoned for attending the event, Deadline reported.
The Arabic-language documentary film chronicles the lives of eight Palestinian girls and two Israeli girls during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict as they try out for the role of Anne Frank. It was directed by Croatian filmmaker Jakov Sedlar and produced by Branko Lustig, a Croatian Holocaust survivor who won an Oscar for producing “Schindler’s List.”
“Tell your friends about Anne Frank,” Sedlar, who attended the screening, told the Iranian students. “Try to find details of her life; try to learn something about the Holocaust.”
Frank is known for writing a diary when she hid with her family from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II. The young Jewish writer died at the age of 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, after her hiding place was discovered.
In 2006 the Iranian government sponsored a conference dedicated to questioning the historical accuracy of Nazi atrocities toward Jews, and the country’s leaders have publicly denied the Holocaust.
In 2014, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on Twitter: “#Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened.”
According to the U.S. State Department, the Iranian government censors films deemed incompatible with Islamic values. Reporters Without Borders rated the country as “one of the world’s most oppressive countries as regards freedom of information.”