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Wednesday night, Iranium — a documentary about Iran’s nuclear power program — premiered at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Sponsored by the Penn Israel Coalition, the event was organized by Aish Philadelphia, a network of Jewish education centers and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Following the documentary, the event featured speaker James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Clinton.

Rabbi Yakov Couzens, who organized the event, said he wanted to educate students about the threat Iran might pose as a nuclear-armed state.

“Much of what students learn is biased and slanted,” Couzens said. “We wanted to go out of our way to help students learn the truth.”

Iranium generated controversy this year when the Iranian embassy in Canada filed a formal complaint about the film, which was due to screen at a library in Ottawa.

Although the original premiere was canceled, Canada’s Heritage Minister ordered the library to screen the movie despite protests.

For 60 minutes, Iranium portrays Iran as a nuclear threat, documenting its beginnings during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The documentary interviewed 25 politicians and experts about the threat Iran poses today.

The documentary made an emotional impact on many of the students.

“It seems like a very real, scary threat,” College senior and President of the Penn Israel Coalition Evan Philipson said. “It highlighted an issue that is important for the entire planet.”

However, the documentary did not persuade all viewers.

“Iran is not a real threat,” College senior Sarah Abigail said. “I’ve been to Iran, and this movie seems like propaganda.” When asked about the purpose of such propaganda, she replied, “we need a boogeyman.”

“It is a totally exaggerated movie. All the people interviewed were extremes,” said Penn Persian Society member and Wharton sophomore Sima Golnabi, a former Daily Pennsylvanian sportswriter.

She added that while she chose not to protest the movie, she felt the best thing to do was to ignore it.

Although Golnabi, who did not attend the premiere, thought the movie was anti-Iran, other students felt it gave an objective overview of the situation.

“It was based on facts,” Wharton freshman Lisa Felber said. “It not only talked about how we can help the U.S. and Israel but also how we can help the Iranian people.”

After the documentary, Woolsey voiced his opinion on how the United States should approach Iran. He proposed that Americans cut off Iran’s funds by buying “plug-in hybrid” cars rather than pay for gasoline.

“Let’s bankrupt those bastards!” he added to an applauding audience.

While the student reactions of the event were mixed, most agreed that it gave them a new perspective on Iran.

“It was really informative,” Engineering freshman Naomi Hachen said. “People should definitely see the film.”

This article was updated to reflect the proper spelling of Wharton sophomore Sima Golnabi's name and her former affiliation with the DP.

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