The stunt was criticised by people on social media. Seyed Mahmoud Razavi, an Iranian producer, termed the stunt “a big mistake and an insulting joke”. Iranian journalist Mira Ghorbanifar said it was normalising violence.
The images and videos posted online showed that people in the shopping centre were taking selfies and making videos with the actors. However, some reports suggested that some people, including children, panicked after seeing the group.The memory of last year’s attack by ISIS on Iranian parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran are still fresh in people’s mind. Seventeen civilians were killed and 43 were wounded in that attack.“I was under impression that someone is going to be in red beard standing outside Kourosh complex so that people can take pictures. I didn’t imagine there would be a horse, crowd and shouting inside the complex, I wasn’t aware,” Hatamikia said in his apology.
Hatamikia is respected in Iran and is considered close to the establishment. The film has already won some awards and has received praises from Iranian foreign minister and the commander of its Quds force, Special Forces unit of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.
The film which tells a story of a father-son duo – where the father is a pilot of a cargo plane carrying humanitarian supplies for people in a Syrian war zone – is captured by the Islamic State militants. The film has been funded by the Revolutionary Guards.
Iran is a supporter of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and along with Russia provides ground support and weapons. The Revolutionary Guards are also assisting him to win the multipronged war.