Expressing filmmaking situation

How the state is taking over Iranian cinema

The Cinema of Iran, also known as the Cinema of Persia, refers to the cinema and film industries in Iran which produce a variety of commercial films annually. Iranian art films have garnered international fame and now enjoy a global following. Iranian cinema has had many ups and downs.

Different cinema

In the early 1970s, a New Iranian Cinema emerged (cinema motefävet). However, following the Revolution in 1979, a few filmmakers and actors went into exile as the leader altered the focus in features. Between 1979 and 1985, about 100 features were released. While the censorship remained, the small number of features produced focused on sexual display and European influence.

In 1982, the annual Fajr Film Festival financed films. The Farabi Cinema Foundation then stepped in to try and reassemble the disorganized cinema. The following year, the government began to provide financial aid. This change encouraged a whole new generation of filmmakers, which included female directors as well. With this, the focus shifted to children overcoming obstacles: true stories, lyrical, mystical drama, real-life problems, documentary footage, etc.

Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema has been celebrated in many international forums and festivals for its distinct style, themes, authors, the idea of nationhood, and cultural references. Starting With Viva… by Khosrow Sinai and followed by many excellent Iranian directors who emerged in the last few decades, such as Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi.

Apart from censorship, restrictions, and persecution, independent filmmakers are facing state filmmaking competition. Films backed by the Iranian Organization of Cinema (IOC), the state’s own film production company — basically government propaganda — not only have huge budgets but unlimited logistic support. While it’s impossible for independent productions to close down a street for a film scene, They can easily take two helicopters to block the main square for one of their projects. Unsurprisingly, many people have started working with them.

While they feel there is a lack of courage in my country, various initiatives are still fighting to regain the rights of independent filmmakers. In November 2019, more than 200 members of Iran’s film industry signed an open letter condemning state censorship and demanding freedom of expression in the Islamic Republic, following the ban of Kianoush Ayari’s film The Paternal House a week after it was first screened in Iranian theaters.