Persepolis has been withdrawn as the opening film of the Bangkok International Film Festival, which is scheduled to start on July 19, following a request from the Iranian Embassy in Bangkok.

'TAT has decided to comply because of the good diplomatic relationship between Thailand and Iran. It is a shame that the Thai audience won't have the opportunity to see the film,' says Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, chief officer of the festival and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s director for international public relations.

He has declined to comment further on the specific reasons for the withdrawal, only saying that it is a 'sensitive issue'.

The animation is a feature debut for co-directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud. Based on Satrapi's graphic novel of her own life, it is set during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and her subsequent exile in Europe. The picture, which recently won a joint jury prize at Cannes, also originally had a competition slot in Bangkok 's international section.

A new opening film is expected to be confirmed later this week.