A kind of televisual revolution began in Iran on Monday.
‘Shoah’, Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary on the Holocaust began its first screening on a Iranian TV channel after being translated into Arabic, Persian and Turkish some 15 years after its initial release. It is also showing in Afghanistan. For the next two weeks, it will be broadcast in 50 minute chunks.
Although it is not going to be shown on Iranian state television, the very fact that it is on air is an achievement in itself; Iran’s authorities, and in particular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have denied the Holocaust took place. In 2006, Tehran hosted a conference to debate the Holocaust which was attended by revisionist historians with views that are illegal to share in some parts of Europe.
The film’s translation for the Arabic and Persian speaking world was done by Project Aladdin, a cultural initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between Muslims and Jews and countering Holocaust denial.
As he explains in his autobiography “Le Lièvre de Patagonie” (The Patagonian Hare), Lanzmann took 10 years to make ‘Shoah’ using no historical footage, but rather the contemporary testimony of Holocaust survivors, Nazi prison guards and inhabitants of towns close to concentration camps.
Having been translated into Turkish, ‘Shoah’ is scheduled to be screened at the Istanbul International Film Festival and then aired on the Turkish state television channel, TRT.
There was also an agreement, made before the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, to show the film on Egyptian television. This has been delayed given the circumstances in the country but, according to Lanzmann, its eventual showing “comes at a good time, a time of Arab revolts,” adding “I think peace has more of a chance today.”