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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 00:43 GMT 01:43 UK
Iran 'anti-cleric' film to hit US
Tehran cinema-goers
People across Iran queued to see Marmoulak
A US judge has ruled against an Iranian film distributor who tried to block the release of a controversial Iranian film in America.

The smash hit Marmoulak (The Lizard) was banned in Iran for allegedly mocking the ruling conservative clergy.

Director Kamal Mosafaye Tabrizi sought a temporary restraining order, arguing that the film could not be shown abroad without his approval.

But Los Angeles Judge Dzintra Jamavs denied the request as unmerited.

Mr Tabrisi's lawyer, Patrick Saboorian, said another restraining order would be filed if the parties are unable to reach a private agreement.


The satirical film featuring a thief disguised as a mullah proved to be an instant box-office success in Iran on 21 April.

Marmoulak's debut was delayed by a month as the religious authorities debated whether or not to ban it.

It was finally released with minor cuts from the version that won the best film award at Tehran's international film festival in February.

The film grossed almost $1m in the capital Tehran alone before authorities banned it on 19 May.

The audience lapped up the comedy, as the film's lead character - Reza the Lizard - revels in the privileges and power his clerical robes bring him.

Eventually he captivates his congregation's imagination by his simplicity and brings worshippers flocking back to the mosques.

After the ban, the film's producer, Manushehr Mohammadi, sought to market it abroad, agreeing to a contract to distribute the film through Atlantis Enterprises company.

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