On Monday, bearded men dressed in black and armed to the teeth rushed into a Tehran cinema, terrifying film-goers who thought they were being attacked by terrorists. But the Kalashnikovs were fake: the men were actors, hired by the production company behind the film.

“Damascus Time” is a movie about two Iranian pilots on a special mission to save the people of Palmyra, Syria, as the town is surrounded by Islamic State group fighters; predictably, the heroes get captured. The film hit cinemas back in March, but on Monday, it was being shown during a special screening followed by a Q and A with the director, Ebrahim Hatamikia.

Before the start of the screening, actors dressed as IS group fighters, including one on horseback, moved through the mall in character – pushing people, intimidating them and stealing food from their plates before entering the cinema. While some onlookers quickly understood that this wasn’t a real attack, others started screaming and running away. In the end, some of those who understood that these men were actors but who didn’t find them at all amusing pushed them out of the mall.



An angry man pushes the actors out of the mall, yelling: "You scared women and children, get out! Who's responcible for this sh--t? Get out!"


In the video below, a woman yells at the director for this strange advertising stunt. She says she has children that she brought to see her favorite director’s movie, and that “they are traumatised now”.



“Apologising is good, but I hope Ebrahim Hatamikia understands that not all problems can be solved with an apology. The horror and trauma experienced by these men, women and children may take a long time to heal, if it heals at all.”



"Pure stupidity!"


Even before this fiasco, “Damascus Time” had come under attack by critics who viewed it as a propaganda film glorifying Iran’s military presence in Syria. The production company behind the movie, Owj Films, is well-known as being close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who support Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
 

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