UPDATED — Fred Litwin, founder of the Free Thinking Film Society, has sent out a letter explaining his version of the events that led to the recent cancellation of the Society’s screening of the film ‘Iranium’:
Iranium will be shown in Ottawa on February 6th!
January 21, 2011
Dear Free Thinking Film Society Supporter:
I want to express my extreme disappointment that Iranium was not shown in Ottawa this week. We are committed to ensuring this film is shown in the capital of Canada – and that our cultural policies are not dictated by the Khomeinist thugs of Iran.
So, I am happy to announce that Iranium will now be shown on Sunday, February 6th at 7:00 PM at the Library and Archives Canada. Clare Lopez will also be flying in to talk at the event. Tickets are $15.00 (Students/Seniors – $8.00) and will be available, in advance, at the following locations:
Compact Music, 785 1/2 Bank Street
Compact Music, 190 Bank Street
Ottawa Folklore Centre, 1111 Bank Street
Ottawa Festivals, 47 William Street
Tickets will also be available at the door, but to ensure you get a seat, please buy your ticket in advance.
What really happened this week
On Monday, January 17th at 2 PM, I was informed by staff of the Library & Archives Canada (LAC) that they had received ‘complaints’ about Iranium and had decided to cancel the film. They offered to find an alternate venue.
I then phoned the office of the Minister of National Heritage (James Moore) to complain about the cancellation. I also sent an e-mail through the official website.
The LAC then offered to move the film to the Museum of Nature, but for a substantial fee. I really couldn’t understand why the film could be shown in one building, but not the other. I told the LAC that if it had to be moved, they would have to pick up the costs.
After conferring with our Board of Directors, we decided that it was way too late to move the film, and that we should hold our ground and insist that the film be shown at the LAC. At 6:30 PM on Monday night, I received a call informing me that the film was now back on at the LAC.
On Tuesday morning, January 18th, I was informed that the complaints had indeed come from the Iranian Embassy! At 4 PM, I received a call from a senior manager at the LAC that there were protestors inside and outside the building; that they had called the RCMP; who had then informed them that security could not be assured; and that they had no choice but to cancel the film.
I immediately got into my car and drove to the Archives, arriving about 4:50 PM. The building had been closed and employees were leaving the building. Few people knew what was happening – and I didn’t see any protesters anywhere. I was then informed that there were no protests – just the ‘threat of protests.’
The police then arrived and the fire department arrived. I conducted a few interviews and left with Clare Lopez for my home. After we left, the hazardous materials team arrived – apparently because of two envelopes left at the front desk – but that occurred after the building had been closed down.
So, there you have it. We still need some answers! What event on Iranian culture was cancelled by the Archives in December of 2010 and why? Why did the Archives cancel so fast on Monday? Why would anybody care if the Iranian Embassy was unhappy? Were there actually threats on Tuesday? From whom? Was there just the ‘threat of protest’? Why can’t people protest a film? And, why couldn’t the building be secured?
And, finally, why can the building now be secure on February 6th for the ‘new’ screening?
I applaud the Minister of National Heritage, James Moore, for his determination in standing up for freedom of speech – but it should never have had to go to his office.
The Khomeinist Thugs in Action
Police in Afghanistan are hunting for an attacker who sprayed acid in the face of journalist Razaq Mamoon as he walked home in Kabul on Tuesday. Mr Mamoon is in hospital after the assault by a masked man, which was condemned by President Karzai. The journalist – who has blamed the attack on Iran – said that he was only saved from critical injury because he was wearing glasses at the time.
The Iranian embassy in Kabul has not commented on Mr Mamoon’s allegations. Police, meanwhile, have given no indication in public that Iran is in any way responsible. But speaking to the BBC from his hospital bed, Mr Mamoon said: ”Absolutely the Iranians are behind this attack because nobody dares to speak out in front of Iran.”
He said that a new book he had written, The Footprint of Pharaoh, documented “Iranian sabotage and intelligence activities… of how they wanted to divide Afghanistan during the Taliban’s rule”. ”The publishers of my book were threatened a few days ago by officials of the Iranian embassy in Kabul,” he said. ”They tried to ban the book. I had the feeling that they would do something. I don’t think this will be the first and last. There might be other people too on their list.” Mr Mamoon has accused Iran in the past of being involved involved in the killing of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001.
I want to thank the hundreds of people who have called or e-mailed with their support for the Free Thinking Film Society and what we are doing. In particular, I have received many e-mails from Iranian-Canadians who thought they, and their families, had left the Khomeinist regime behind, and are outraged to see Khomeinist influence right here in the capital of Canada.
I want to thank the Board Members of the Free Thinking Film Society who have stepped up to the plate to help out the last three hectic days.
Iranium will now show on Sunday, February 6th at 7 PM at the Library & Archives Canada (395 Wellington). Admission is $15.00 ($8.00 for students/seniors). Clare Lopez will be speaking at the event. Reception to follow Q&A.
Free Thinking Film Society
Heritage Minister James Moore’s defence of Canadian free speech
- CBC, Jan 19/11: Show will go on [9:12] (tough-talking Heritage Minister James Moore says foreign gov’ts don’t dictate which movies will be shown in Canada) YouTube [LINK]
National Post: ‘Heritage Minister has done Canadians proud’
[...] The film, Iranium, had been scheduled to be shown by Library and Archives Canada despite protests by the Iranian embassy. But after what a spokesperson called “significant threats” and a bomb scare at their main Ottawa location, the screening was cancelled in the interests of public safety.
This has become a non-uncommon occurrence in Canada. Controversial speakers, usually on the conservative side of the spectrum, have their events cancelled due to “security concerns” — which cynics see as a two-word cop out that attempts to package the stifling of debate as a public necessity. Ann Coulter fell victim to this last year. So, too, did author Christie Blatchford, whose lecture on the standoff at Caledonia, Ont., originally was cancelled at the University of Waterloo after protesters wrapped chains around their own necks.
Fortunately, in the case of this week’s controversy, Mr. Moore stepped in and ordered Library and Archives Canada to go ahead with the Iranium screening, including the deployment of whatever security is necessary to ensure a smooth event. By standing up for free speech, our Heritage Minister has done Canadians proud.
- National Post, Matt Gurney, Jan 19/11: Matt Gurney: Heritage Minister deserves thanks for protecting free speech
- see also: HelplessByBlatchford, Dec 11/10: University of Waterloo takes a stand for free speech and Christie Blatchford’s Caledonia story
As a Caledonia activist I have been highly critical of the Harper government’s embrace of Julian Fantino (who, in addition to enforcing racial policing policies there, used the media and his office to wage a vicious campaign to restrict Gary McHale’s freedom of expression) and – more recently – of the announcement that the Canadian Forces planned to apologize to the Mohawk Warriors.
As a Canadian citizen, however, whose only weapon against Race-Based Policing by the OPP and our government’s wilful blindness to it was – and is - my right to speak out via websites like this one, I am profoundly grateful for the actions of Harper’s Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages James Moore.
It is my honour to put Minister Moore in the fine company of the University of Waterloo which also acted honourably, quickly and with resolve to ensure that Christie Blatchford did get to speak, and the story of Caledonia’s victims were told and those thugs who tried to silence her were sent a strong message that free speech was a vital necessity to the life of the university:
HelplessByBlatchford, Dec 11/10: University of Waterloo takes a stand for free speech and Christie Blatchford’s Caledonia story
UPDATE — I have just sent Minister Moore a link to this post along with this note:
“Thank you for defending Canadian freedom of speech at a such an important time in world history when this core value of free people is under assault.”
Thank you to Fred Litwin and his associates at the Free Thinking Film Society for not only showing Iranium, but for standing up against intimidation by a regime with many reasons to silence its critics.
Well done, all!
Show your support!
You can show your support for Fred Litwin and the Free Thinking Film Society by buying a ticket for Iranium at the Ottawa locations noted above in his letter.
You can send some well-deserved compliments to Minister Moore by phone or email – as per his Contact page here:
James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages: Contact
phone: Port Moody, B.C. constituency office – 604.937.5650
phone: House of Commons office – 613.992.9650
VoiceofCanada, Jan 18/11: Suspicious package, threats shut down screening
- Canada.com, Jan 19/11: Heritage Minister orders showing of controversial film Iranium
- CBC, Jan 19/11: Show will go on [9:12] (tough-talking Heritage Minister James Moore says foreign gov’ts don’t dictate which movies will be shown in Canada) See also: YouTube [LINK]
- CTV video, Jan 19/11: Show will go on
- Blazing Cat Fur, Jan 19/11: Moore, Kenney order screening of Iranium!
- Free Thinking Films: News – Iranium
Iranium movie site: http://www.iraniummovie.com/
- VoiceofCanada, Feb 07/11: VoC thank you note to Iranian embassy re Iranium movie sell-out
Breitbart.com, Feb 01/11: Iranium to screen at Canada’s Library and Archives despite complaints by Iranian embassy (incl. link to this article)
Mark Vandermaas, Editor