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Iranian cinema's happy and sad events of the year

TEHRAN, March 17 (Mehr News Agency) -- The establishment of The Iranian Box Office Film Club, the bootlegging of on-screen movies, the 26th Fajr Film Festival and the winning of the Best Actor Silver Bear at Berlinale are just a few of the rises and falls in fortune that Iranian cinema has witnessed over the past year.

Leading actor Reza Naji, winner of Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival and Majid Majidi director of The Song of the Sparrows

The year 1386 (March 21, 2007-2008) with all its ups and downs and happy and unhappy events in the various fields of art, culture, economy and politics is coming to an end and it might be worth reviewing over the last few remaining days some of the cinematic highlights that have taken place.

Iran's cinema began the year 2007-2008 with the extensive screening of Masud Dehnamaki's "The Outcasts" which sold about 650m rials worth of tickets (about $65,000) in the first three days of sales and ended up making 10b rials (about $1m).

The film broke box office records, but it also made an appearance amongst bootlegged CDs on Tehran's black market. However, despite the wide distribution of these pirated copies the film was still a tremendous success on screen.

As the year progressed, the bootlegging of CDs went on to affect other movies such as "The Guest", "Parkway", "The Santur Player" and many more. The problem forced the police to take anti-piracy action.

The cinematic unions also gathered at Iran's Film Museum in a symbolic gathering and signed a petition to put a stop to the increasing wave of film piracy.

One of the positive achievements of the season was the high ticket sales of the comic film "Compulsory Success" directed by Mohammad-Hossein Latifi making a profit of over $1m and joining "Cease-Fire" by Tahmineh Milani in Iran's Box Office Film Club.

The 26th Fajr Film Festival faced many changes including the appointment of a new secretary. Other cinematic news was the engagement of a new director of the Farabi Cinema Foundation.

Despite the early scheduling of arrangements for the Fajr festival, the list of Iranian submissions was announced late. Thereafter, a number of films were not accepted for entry and several others which were accepted, withdrew at the last moment.

Iran's success at the Berlin Film Festival was an auspicious event for Iran's cinema. Actor Reza Naji won Best Actor Silver Bear at the Berlinale for his part in Majid Majidi's movie "The Song of the Sparrows", this was a special victory considering that he was competing with actor Daniel Day-Lewis who won the 2008 Oscar for best actor in "There Will Be Blood" at the 80th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, Dariush Mehrjuii's "The Santur Player" was ill-fated -- in July, while many of Tehran's billboards displayed posters advertising the film, the movie's premiere was postponed for an indefinite time.

The film only appeared in bootleg CD versions. Intervention on the part of the producer, director and even officials did not remedy the situation. Eventually, the police took action and collected the pirated CDs but the movie was not lucky enough to go on screen.

The year is ending with good and bad memories -- happy and unhappy, usual and unusual events will be recorded as being quite a distinctive period in the files of the history of Iran's cinema.

... Payvand News - 03/17/08 ... --

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