U.S. denies visa to acclaimed Iranian director

I just saw this story, as I was looking through news upon my return.

Director Abbas Kiarostami, one of international cinema's biggest names, is blocked from attending the New York Film Festival and speaking at Harvard.

This is terrible. We're sending the message that the only way for countries to communicate with each other is through war. He had visited the U.S. seven times in the last ten years.

New York Film Festival spokeswoman Ines Aslan said that festival organizers, along with the two universities involved, tried "very, very hard" to convince officials at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where Kiarostami had applied for a visa, to make an exception for the filmmaker. "It wasn't that they could not make an exception," Aslan said. "It was that they did not choose to. It is very sad." Officials at the embassy told the festival that they would require at least 90 days to investigate Kiarostami's background -- which is well known to film scholars and fans, and contains little in the way of political activity -- and process the visa paperwork.

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