International Conference on Hollywoodism
The International Conference on Hollywoodism, sometimes known as the Conference on Hollywoodism and Cinema, is a conference held annually and organized by the government of Iran. By its own description, it "host[s] filmmakers, scholars and activists from around the world to discuss different aspects of world cinema as they relate to human ideals on one hand and the realities of Hollywood on the other." In particular, the conference serves to criticize the United States film industry's portrayals of Islam and Iran. It takes place in Tehran in February each year, coincident to and within the framework of the Fajr International Film Festival.
Attendees to the conference include Iranian analysts as well as foreign commentators of various sorts. The conference puts out a call for papers and promises monetary prizes to the top articles selected. Guests are given copies of up to twenty films to watch as part of their attendance. Organizers sometimes fund the travel expenses of those coming from abroad.
The inaugural conference was a two-day seminar held in 2011. It covered topics such as "Terrorism and Hollywood" and "Hollywood and Satanism".
The 2012 second conference brought 48 foreign guests, who engaged in discussion on "Hollywood and Holocaust", "Palestine on the Line of Fire", and "Darwinism and Liberalism". President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened the conference, honoring actor and attendee Sean Stone, a recent Muslim convert and the son of well-known filmmaker Oliver Stone. Other attendees included Webster Tarpley, an American conspiracy theorist. The Tehran Times reported that several speakers touched upon a purported "influence of the Zionist regime on Hollywood."
The 2013 edition of the conference included some 130 foreigners brought to Tehran by the government for four days of sessions with 1,000 expected attendees. It was organized by Iranian filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh and held at the Parsian Azadi Hotel. It was opened by Javad Shamaqdari, Iran Cinema Organization Director and deputy cultural minister for cinema affairs, who said, "Hollywood has been able to institutionalize an ideology secretly, but very efficiently, in the minds of many. ... The secret management of the world has undertaken the task of producing and distributing the messages, and the medium of cinema is the main tool of this job." Iranian Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini was also present.
Conference discussion paid special attention to the effects upon American public opinion of the 2012 U.S. film Argo, a narratively fictionalised rendition of aspects of the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis that had been nominated for a number of Academy Awards. Also screened and discussed were the 2010 film Unthinkable and the 2011 film Jerusalem Countdown, among others. While many attendees held the notion that U.S. films served to promote a secret agenda they called "Hollywoodism", they often differed in their approaches.
Among the 2013 attendees was former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who had previously been a frequent interviewee of Iran's PressTV. Gravel said that the U.S. film industry had brainwashed the American public regarding what to think of Iran. He also said the conference featured "various elements of extremes", some of whose attitudes against Israel and Zionism were "off the charts". Another attendee was Iranian political strategist Hassan Abbasi, who is known for Zionist conspiracy theories involving the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry and who said of watching American films, "The images you see pollute your sexual fantasies." E. Michael Jones, editor of an American conservative Christian magazine, said he was impressed by how the host country had desexualised their culture: "There was a reason Iranians burned their cinemas during the revolution." An American Muslim activist, Abdul Alim Musa, said Islamic peoples were being subjected to a "cultural invasion" by Western film. Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, an activist French lawyer known for representing accused militants and terrorists whom she regards as "revolutionaries", also was there, as were American libertarian politician Art Olivier and James H. Fetzer, an American conspiracy theory generalist.
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