People in Tehran’s Kourosh shopping center unaware of the film “Damascus Time” may have mistaken the arrival of men armed tooth and nail with bullets, guns, and swords as members of terrorist organization Isis. The men were riding actual horses, which didn’t help the supposed harmless public relations stunt of Iranian filmmaker Ebrahim Hatamikia. The director has since then apologized, but the damage had been done.
As per the recollection of those in the Tehran mall – and especially more so in the released footage in Instagram and other social media websites – pranksters that were dressed as members of Isis (Islamic State) had just entered the mall and walked around. These pranksters, some of them actors in the “Damascus Time” film themselves, had fake swords and fake guns as they toured the area. Some were even riding horses, for additional effect.
What was supposedly a thematic stunt was however met with immense criticism. Iranians in social media reported that some people, especially children, panicked over the entire incident. Some pictures online included selfies as some actors were connecting wires of a fake bomb.
Included in Hatamikia’s apology was a statement saying he wasn’t made aware of the publicity event’s details in advance, so the stunt itself was just as surprising for him. He initially thought the event was just limited to someone outside the mall and cinema complex that people could take pictures with. He didn’t expect the shouting and the crowd – much more the horses – to happen.
What perhaps soured the entire event was the fact that the Islamic State had done a lot of harm and chaos throughout the Middle East for the past few years – and have garnered the attention of social media even until now. In 2017, 17 civilians were fatalities and 43 more were injured in various Isis attacks in Tehran, particularly the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian parliament building.
Recent news points towards the “caliphate” of Isis having since then crumbled through the efforts of Iran and other countries, but fragments of the terrorist organization’s impact to the Middle East remain.
Seyed Mahmoud Razavi, another Iranian producer, said the stunt was offensive and a “big mistake.” Others said it might be a way of normalizing violence.
“Damascus Time” is a story of a father and son that served as co-pilots for a cargo plane that carries supplies for people in a war zone in Syria as part of a humanitarian cause. The film shows what happens to the father-son duo after being caught by Isis.
Hatamikia as a filmmaker is recognized in Iran. “Damascus Time” itself is an award-winning film that was praised even by the Quds force, or the special forces Revolutionary Guards that are fighting in Syria, as well as the Iranian foreign minister. The Revolutionary Guards themselves gave funding to the production company behind “Damascus Time” because of the film’s success.
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