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Fajr Film Festival controversy

Some criticism of Fajr festival jury decisions is reasonable: culture minister

TEHRAN, Feb. 14 (Mehr News Agency) - The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance believes that some complaints about the jury's decisions in the recent Fajr International Film Festival are reasonable, the culture minister said here on Tuesday.

"The decisions of the jury are always disputed, and sometimes the criticism is logical," Mohammad-Hossein Saffar Harandi told reporters at a press conference.

"The general outcome of the festival was positive, and cinema aficionados should help to improve the event," he added.

Several of the decisions of the jury of the 25th edition of the festival, which was held in Tehran from February 1 to 11, have been criticized by participants.

A number of cineastes complained that the jury had slighted their films by not nominating them in more categories.

Journalist-turned-director Masud Dehnamaki turned out to be the most controversial figure of the field when he said during his film's review session that he would not accept any prize because he believed that the efforts of his film crew were not recognized.

Dehnamaki's Sacred Defense genre comedy "The Outcasts" was warmly welcomed by moviegoers but only got nominations in the Best Costume Designer and Best Special Effects categories.

His refusal to accept the Crystal Simorgh for the Audience Favorite Film during the award presentation ceremony on February 11 created a media frenzy in Iran.

Saffar Harandi once visited the film crew during production on location in Tehran. Shortly afterwards, it was rumored that financial assistance was provided by the Culture Ministry for the production of the film.

In addition, Maziar Miri, whose "Reward of Silence" only received a nomination for the Best Actress Simorgh, said that he would never again participate in the competition section of the festival.

His "Slowly" won three Simorghs at last year's Fajr festival.

Furthermore, during his acceptance speech, Bahram Radan, who won the Best Actor Crystal Simorgh for Dariush Mehrjuii's "The Santur Player", placed his award on the floor of the stage as a sign of protest and asked jury members to watch the film once again, but this time alone.

The dispute has also reached the parliament, with Cultural Committee Chairman Emad Afrugh supporting Dehnamaki.

He referred to moviegoers' interest in Dehnamaki's "The Outcasts", saying, "Films are produced for people and their inclination toward a film should be considered one of the criteria for jury members."

Afrugh also said that the Majlis Cultural Committee plans to investigate the jury's decisions.

... Payvand News - 2/14/07 ... --

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