Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Reza Salehi Amiri has requested that the fate of censored films be determined within two months.
Amiri wrote out instructions in a letter to his deputy. “Banning films is the confinement of capital resources and wastes the outcome of filmmakers’ efforts. This may lead to violating people’s rights, the cultural rights of directors and wasting producers’ investments,” he said.
The minister’s letter came in response to increasing demands by Iranian filmmakers to determine the fate of banned films.
In recent years, a significant number of films have been banned from public screening for a variety of reasons. Most of the banned films were produced under the official license.
The most prominent films to be banned include Reza Dormishian’s I’m Not Angry, Ahmad Reza Darvish’s Resurrection, Kianoush Ayari’s The Paternal House and The Sofa, and Abdolreza Kahani’s Eradatmand Nazanin Bahareh Tina.
Many of these movies -- which also include Amir Youssefi’s Lovely Garbage -- were initially banned during Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s two-term presidency. The fate of the films has yet to be been decided.
The Bear, directed by Khosro Masumi is another example of a film to be banned despite it being screened at the 30th Fajr International Film Festival, where it took home many awards.
“I hope the minister’s letter will have a positive impact on releasing the banned movies,” Masumi told Radio Farda in an interview.
The arbitrary banning of films from public screenings has forced many Iranian film directors to leave the local cinema industry behind.
Internationally known directors such as Bahram Beyzai, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Amir Naderi live in exile and have been deprived of the right to make films inside Iran.
“I hope the minister’s letter will have a positive impact on releasing the banned movies,”
Twice Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi has also been forced to make his films outside Iran.
Iranian filmmakers have faced strict censorship ever since the 1979 revolution. Harsh regulations imposed on Iranian movies forbid showing women, even in their bedrooms, without a hijab, and couples are forbidden from touching, let alone kissing.
Any film portraying anything deemed “against Islamic morals” is banned.
“Yet, the taste of those in charge of the censorship differs,” Masumi said. “So Iranian filmmakers face the dilemma of how to cope with the varying tastes of the officials in charge of censoring films.”
Meanwhile, the regime views filmmakers with deep suspicion lest they symbolically relay anti-revolutionary messages to their audiences.