Cannes President Gilles Jacob Fires Back at Iranian Authorities Over Actress' Kiss

Gilles Jacob

"This controversy based on a normal Western custom is baseless," tweeted the festival head, after Iranian authorities publicly condemned actress Leila Hatami for greeting him with a kiss on the cheek.

President of the Cannes Film Festival Gilles Jacob has responded to Iranian authorities who are outraged over a kiss on the cheek between himself and actress Leila Hatami, co-star of Asghar Farhadi's 2011 Oscar winner A Separation.

"It was me who gave a kiss to Madame Hatami," Jacob wrote. "At that moment, she represented to me all of Iranian cinema. … This controversy based on a normal Western custom is baseless." 

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Hatami, one of Iran's best-known screen stars, is serving on the jury for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. On Sunday, the festival director and Hatami greeted each other in the customary French way, with a quick peck on each cheek. After photos and video of the exchange surfaced, Iranian authorities blasted the actress, saying she had maligned Iranians -- particularly Iranian women -- with her actions and presence at the festival.

"Those who attend intentional events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world," said the Islamic republic's deputy culture minister, Hossein Noushabadi, adding, "Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence."