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Iranian Filmmakers Demand End To Censorship

A worker removing the poster of the Iranian movie "Khane-ye Pedari" after was banned by authorities.
A worker removing the poster of the Iranian movie "Khane-ye Pedari" after was banned by authorities.

Over 300 Iranian filmmakers have called for abolishing censorship and removing "movie licenses" in Iran, issuing a statement on Friday's "National Cinema Day" that reiterated the necessity of ending Iranian film censorship.

"On National Cinema Day, we, the filmmakers, call for the abolition of censorship and remove all forms of filmmaking licenses," the 313 signatories to the brief statement wrote.

The signatories include renowned film directors and cinema celebrities, including Mahnaz Afshar, Taraneh Alidousti, Kiyanoush Ayyari, Homayoun Ass'adian, Reza Babak, Abol-Hassan Davoudi, Alireza Davoudnejad, Reza Dormishian, Abdor-Reza Kahani, Mahtab Keramati, Tahmineh Milani, Fatemeh Mo'tamed Aria, Ali Mosaffa, Ja'far Panahi, Kambouzia Partovi, Kioumars Pour-Ahmad, Hassan Pour-Shirazi, Vahid Ne'matollah, and Mohammad Rassoulof.

One of the signatories, the award-winning documentary filmmaker Mohammad Rassoulof, tweeted, "If naming a day after the national cinema had a benefit, it should have been giving a chance to filmmakers to demand their overdue and accumulated basic rights, without being scared of the state's routine harsh punishments."

He concluded his tweet by expressing regret that other filmmakers did not sign the statement.

Earlier in November 2019, in one of the most direct attacks on film censorship in Iran, more than 300 Iranian film industry activists protested obstacles in their profession, including tight censorship and Iran's inability to stand by its licensing rules when faced with intervention by non-government authorities.

"We deplore the policy of inquisition into the form and content of the movies, in any context," the letter read, with the filmmakers adding that they demand freedom of thought and expression.

Per the statement, "We, the people of cinema, are a group of directors, screenwriters, producers, actors, and actresses whose profession has been under attack and damaged for years.".

In recent years, in addition to censorship, Iranian filmmakers have deplored the government's inability to enforce the law and prevent "suspicious investments" in the Iranian film industry.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, one of the dominant entities in the Iranian economy, has recently been accused of attempting to control domestic cinema in the country and enforce directors to use their favorite screenplays.

The filmmakers' statement criticized the authorities for their "distasteful ideological approach" towards cinema, forcing filmmakers to "manipulate the form and content of their work."

Citing the complex process of obtaining a license to make films, the moviemakers also lamented that they have repeatedly been forced to edit their works to satisfy the authorities' tastes and demands.

As a rule, the Islamic Republic officials do not react specifically to such statements and carry on implementing their strict policies regardless of their detrimental impact on the movies as an art.