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Iran seeks apology from Hollywood

Annette Bening
Actress Annette Bening was the lead actress in American Beauty

Iranian officials have said a Hollywood delegation should say sorry for films viewed as "insulting" to their country.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cultural advisor said Iranian film-makers should refuse to meet the group, which includes actress Annette Bening.

The Wrestler has been banned in Iran for depicting a fighter called The Ayatollah, who tries to choke Mickey Rourke with an Iranian flag.

The visit has been hailed as the start of a new era in US-Iranian relations.

'Insults and slanders'

"I hope that we can be a bridge to open a dialogue between the two countries," said three-times Oscar nominee Bening in Tehran.

The Hollywood delegation is scheduled to meet a number of other Iranian cultural institutions during its stay.

Presidential adviser Javad Shamaqdari said the Americans would be welcomed warmly, "but it will not stop Iranians from demanding an apology".

A scene from 300 showing Xerxes
The Iranians objected to the depiction of the Persians in 2007 epic 300

In earlier comments to Iranian news agency Isna, Mr Shamaqdari called for an unreserved apology from Hollywood for 30 years of "insults and slanders" since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

"The Iranian people and our revolution has been repeatedly unjustly attacked by Hollywood," he said.

Mr Shamaqdari listed offending films including The Wrestler and 300, an epic about the ancient Persians.

The 2007 film was heavily criticised in Iran for unfavourably depicting the Persians as bloodthirsty and decadent compared to their Greek enemies.

The US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the taking of American hostages.

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