National library to show Iran film in February

Canada's national library quietly tried to unload a controversial film critical of Iran a day before it cancelled the screening because of threats. The film is now set to be shown Feb. 6.

Film rescheduled for Feb. 6 after pressure from heritage minister

The screening of a controversial film critical of Iran that Canada's national library quietly tried to unload before cancelling on Tuesday has been rescheduled for Feb. 6, the film's organizers say.

Library and Archives Canada dropped a showing of Iranium at its Wellington Street location in Ottawa on Tuesday because of what spokeswoman Pauline Portelance called a "series of threats."

But after pressure from Heritage Minister James Moore, the library has agreed to screen the film again on Sunday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.

All week, the Crown agency denied ever trying to cancel or move the screening before Tuesday, and in particular denied the implication that it had bowed to pressure from the Iranian Embassy.

However, CBC News has confirmed with a spokesperson at the Canadian Museum of Nature that the library called the museum on Monday to see if its theatre was available.

Fred Litwin, who organized the screening through the Free Thinking Film Society of Ottawa, said the library then contacted him and told him there had been "complaints," and that there was no way the film could be screened.

He said the library also offered to pay the $1,350 additional cost to rent the museum space, but that he responded that it was too late to change venues.

Instead, Litwin complained to Heritage Minister James Moore, who advised the library to show the film.

Moore has since accused the library of bowing to pressure from the Iranian Embassy.

"I'm not going to stand by as the minister responsible for culture and let the Iranian Embassy tell a Canadian what movie they can or cannot watch," Moore said on CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon.

Moore orders new screening

Portelance has acknowledged receiving a complaint from the Iranian Embassy and a request to not show the film, but said that request was denied.

Portelance said the screening was only cancelled on Tuesday, following threats that culminated in the discovery of a suspicious package at the library.

Ottawa police launched an investigation after a man showed up and dropped off a plastic bag with two envelopes inside the library building and then fled the area. Police found white powder inside the bag, but it turned out to be harmless.

Moore then advised Library and Archives Canada to screen the film despite new complaints from the Iranian Embassy received by his office on Wednesday.

When asked whether Daniel Caron, head of Library and Archives Canada, still had his confidence, Moore responded, "He's going to show this film."

The Iranian Embassy could not be reached for comment.

With files from the CBC's Giacomo Panico