This will probably surprise most everyone here except Narkissos.
Zero Degree Turn- Iran's Holocaust TV series
from the Wall Street Journal:
Iran's Unlikely TV Hit: Show Sympathetic to Plight
Of Jews During the Holocaust Draws Millions Each Week
By FARNAZ FASSIHI
September 7, 2007; Page B1
Every Monday night at 10 o'clock, Iranians by the millions tune into Channel One to watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic's state-owned television. Its elaborate 1940s costumes and European locations are a far cry from the typical Iranian TV fare of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.
But the most surprising thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II.
The hour-long drama, "Zero Degree Turn," centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman.
Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for
the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian Jews to their homeland.
On the surface, the message of the lavish, state-funded production appears sharply at odds with that sent out by Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called the Holocaust a myth.
In fact, the government's spending on the show underscores the subtle and often sophisticated way in which the Iranian state uses its TV empire to send out political messages. The aim of the show, according to many inside and outside the country, is to draw a clear distinction between the government's views about Judaism -- which is
accepted across Iranian society -- and its stance on Israel -- which the leadership denounces every chance it gets.
"Iranians have always differentiated between ordinary Jews and a minority of Zionists," says Hassan Fatthi, the show's writer and
director. "The murder of innocent Jews during World War II is just as despicable, sad and shocking as the killing of innocent Palestinian
women and children by racist Zionist soldiers," he says.
Mr. Fatthi, 48 years old, is a well-known director of historical fiction for television. In the past, his work has focused on Iranian history. But he also dabbles in comedy, winning international
critical acclaim two years ago for a hit feature, "Marriage, Iranian Style."
He says he came up with the idea for "Zero Degree Turn" four years ago as he was reading books about World War II and stumbled across literature about charge d'affaires at the Iranian embassy in Paris.
Abdol Hussein Sardari saved over a thousand European Jews by forging Iranian passports and claiming they belonged to an Iranian tribe.
Mr. Fatthi says he chose the title because the world at the time was in dire circumstances, offering few options for avoiding the terrors
to come. Shot on location in Paris and Budapest, the show stars Iranian heartthrob Shahab Husseini and is so popular that its theme song -- an ode to getting lost in love -- is a hit, too.
"It's captivating. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, on Monday nights I find a television set and watch the show. So does every Jewish person I know here," says Morris Motamed, the lone Jew in parliament.
Mr. Fatthi enlisted the help of Iran's Jewish Association, an independent body that safeguards the community's culture and heritage. The association has criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments about the Holocaust but has praised Mr. Fatthi's show.
Iran is home to some 25,000 Jews, the largest population in the Middle East outside of Israel. Iran's Jews -- along with Christians and Zorastrians -- are guaranteed equal rights in the country's constitution. Iran's Jews are guaranteed one member of parliament and are free to study Hebrew in school, pray in synagogues and shop at
kosher supermarkets. Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements, it isn't government policy to question the Holocaust, and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hasn't endorsed those views.
While Iran makes it no secret that it considers Israel an enemy, it has been extremely touchy about criticism of its treatment of Jewish
citizens. The show is seen as an effort by the government to erase the image that it may be anti-Semitic -- both at home among Jews and
non-Jews, and abroad...
Full article: WSJ.com