Not all violent art films at Cannes receive the same enthusiastic embrace. The Los Angeles Times reports that Steve McEveety, one of the producers of "The Passion of the Christ," took a new film to France. "The Stoning of Soraya M." is adapted from the 1994 nonfiction book of the same name by a French-Iranian journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam. He traveled to a small Iranian village in the mid-1980s and found the story of an innocent woman stoned to death over concocted charges of infidelity. Soraya's husband fell in love with another woman, accused his wife of adultery and Soraya was left without support in the town. Her two eldest sons sat on the male tribunal that declared her guilty, and she was stoned by a mob that included her father.
But Times writer John Horn suggested this film could strike the same chords of controversy with Muslims that "The Passion" did with Jewish critics.
Horn relayed that director and co-writer Cyrus Nowrasteh spares little in depicting the execution, in which Soraya is buried to her chest with her arms bound and pelted with heavy rocks from close range until she bleeds to death.
McEveety disagrees. "We had to keep toning it down so that people could bear it … It was far worse originally. But there were people who wanted us to tone it down even more than we did." Nevertheless, McEveety felt it was important to depict Soraya's killing graphically, so audiences would leave the theater outraged.
"Stoning" is clearly another violent, bloody and disturbing film. But Hollywood doesn't want this one. So just as Gibson distributed his own film, McEveety will go it alone with "The Stoning of Soraya M.," using the distribution company Roadside Attractions to book theaters, help market the film and collect theater receipts, but with his privately financed Mpower company footing the entire bill.
You could call it A Tale of Two Violent Movies. Hollywood's business decisions show where their religious and political sensibilities overrule their business sense -- and any sense of right and wrong.