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Lebanon bans film on Iran protest movement

Lebanese authorities stop the screening of 'The Silent Majority Speaks', which depicts the 2009 post-election Green Movement protests in Iran
Supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi during a mass protest in Tehran on 18 June, 2009 (AFP)

Lebanese authorities have banned the screening of a film depicting the 2009 post-election "Green Movement" protests in Iran, organisers of a local film festival said on Sunday.

"'The Silent Majority Speaks', the admirable visual essay of filmmaker Bani Khoshnoudi, has been censored in Beirut," a statement from the Cultural Resistance International Film Festival organisers said.

"The film was to be screened tonight... At noon, the Censorship Committee served notice to the festival's organisers that it was banned for 'insulting a foreign country,'" the statement added.

"The organisers of the festival protest this ban, which risks depicting Lebanon as a backwards and unenlightened country in the eyes of the international community."

Lebanon's Censorship Committee is part of the General Security agency and monitors all films before screening in the country.

General Security is regarded as close to Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement, which is allied with Iran.

The film, a documentary, includes scenes depicting the protests that erupted in Iran after the 2009 presidential elections that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power following claims of election fraud.

Festival director Jocelyne Saab described the censorship decision as "dangerous".

"There is nothing in the film that justifies the ban," she told AFP.

"It narrates what happened in a beautiful artistic way and is not intended to criticise or attack but to create dialogue," she added.

The Cultural Resistance Film Festival is in its second year and is screening movies in five locations in Lebanon.

Saab said the works selected were "to be a mirror for us, to teach us lessons and encourage dialogue."

Unlike in Iran, art is rarely censored for political reasons in Lebanon.

"I hope to get [the film] out there widely and to be able to talk about these issues of violence, imagery, and repetition [of history]," Khoshnoudi told the Film Society of Lincoln Center