Ararat (2002) premiered as part of the 'Official Selection' at the 55th Cannes International Film Festival in 2002, but it was not 'In Competition' for any awards. Atom Egoyan's prior feature [Felicia's Journey (1999)] and his subsequent feature [Where the Truth Lies (2005)], artistically less ambitious films, were both screened 'In Competition' at Cannes. The reasons for "Ararat" not being part of the 'Official Competition' in 2002 are still ambiguous: Some claim there was political pressure on the festival by Turkey, while Egoyan said he himself decided not to enter Ararat (2002) into the competition: "This film is dealing with a period of history that has never been represented before on film. The idea of subjecting that to the additional pressures of a jury - given all the pressures that are on this film already - seemed to be unnecessary."
The Italian release of this film was intended to be on April 24th 2003. However, its showing was unexpectedly banned by Italian authorities a day before the planned release, with the authorities explaining that the film's distributor had failed to submit in time the application to obtain the required censorship certificate.