The president of the Cannes Film Festival has defended his decision to give Iranian actress Leila Hatami a kiss on the cheek on Sunday (18May14) after officials in her native country lashed out at the star for allowing him to compromise her "chastity".
Cannes festival jury member Hatami and event boss Gilles Jacob came under fire from Iran's deputy culture minister, Hossein Noushabadi, this weekend after they were pictured sharing the traditional French greeting of a kiss on each cheek.
Noushabadi accused Hatami, one of the Islamic nation's biggest screen stars, of acting inappropriately in front of the world's cameras, stating, "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.
"(The) Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence."
However, Jacob has now spoken out against the backlash, insisting Hatami was not to blame for the friendly public display of affection, which he insists has been blown out of proportion.
Taking to his Twitter.com blog, he writes, "It was me who gave a kiss to Madame Hatami. In that moment, she represented to me all of Iranian cinema... This controversy based on a normal Western custom is baseless."
Hatami is one of five women on the judging panel for the Cannes Film Festival's biggest prize, the Palme d'Or. She joins the likes of Sofia Coppola and jury president Jane Campion.
Willem Dafoe, Mexican actor/director Gael Garcia Bernal and filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn are also among the movie celebrities on the 2014 Cannes jury.