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HBO features 3 Iran documentaries in June.

The cable television channel HBO will be broadcasting three documentaries about Iran each Wednesday beginning June 10.

The first documentary, which will debut June 10 on HBO2, is Petr Lom's "Letters to the President." The hour-long film, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET, follows President Ahmadinejad's travels across Iran and documents how he answers the millions of letters he receives. The film will also be shown June 13 at 11 p.m., June 15 at 8 a.m., and June 26 at 5 p.m., all Eastern Time.

The second documentary, set to debut at 8 p.m. June 17, is "The Queen and I." The film documents the friendship that develops between filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani, a firm critic of the former monarchy, and the deposed Empress Farah, wife of the late Shah. It will also be shown again at 2:35 a.m. June 23 and at 3 p.m. June 29.

The final documentary, Tanaz Eshaghian's "Be Like Others," will be aired June 24 at 8 p.m. and will provide an in-depth look at the world of transsexuals living in the Islamic Republic. It will be shown again at 2:30 a.m. June 30.

After Hollywood director Oliver Stone's request to film a documentary on Ahmadi-nejad was refused, Tehran granted Lom--a Harvard-educated documentary filmmaker born in Prague--permission to film a documentary about the Iranian president.

"Letters to the President" follows Ahmadi-nejad's travels across Iran and captures the widely varying attitudes of Iranians toward their controversial president. The film also shows the Iranian president encouraging people to write him about their problems, and the millions of letters he receives ranging from requests for loans and medical attention, to calls for help in finding jobs.

According to one staff member, the president has received 10 million letters and responded to nearly three-quarters of them with the help of the Presidential Letter Processing Center in the capital. At the center, letters are sorted and read by Basiji students.

The film reveals the claimed "success" rate as overly inflated, however, and asserts that very few people actually see results from their letters.

In "The Queen and I," when exile Sarvestani began filming a documentary about Farrah, she expected to encounter her opposite. Growing up in Iran, Sarvestani lived a life of poverty and supported the revolution. But when the revolutionary regime came to power, Sarvestani became disenchanted and later fled Iran.

In an attempt to get answers about her homeland and past, Sarvestani begins a dialogue with Farrah and realizes by the end of the 90-minute documentary that the two refugees actually have a lot in common.

"Be Like Others," is a film by Iranian-American filmmaker Eshaghian documenting transsexuals living in Islamic Republic, where sex-change operations are legal. The film explains that since homosexuality is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic, many opt to get sexchange operations--adopting an identity legally allowed to them. In pursuit of a normal life in Iran, the film follows several homosexuals as they seek sex-change operations from Iran's best-established "gender reassignment" surgeon, Dr. Bahram Mir-Jalali.

Eshaghian accompanies several young men as they contemplate and prepare for their transformation, then follows them into and out of surgery.
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Title Annotation:Culture: From then to now
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Jun 5, 2009
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