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Kiarostami gives up expectations for Iranian premieres of his films

Photos by Raouf Mohseni, Mehr News Agency

TEHRAN, Feb. 21 (Mehr News Agency) -- The Iranian official ban on films by Abbas Kiarostami has disappointed the celebrated Iranian auteur's hope for screening his films in Iran. Kiarostami, most of whose films have never been allowed to premiere in Iran, attended a review session held for his film "Shirin" at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on Saturday.

"This film could premiere here and could have its audiences (in Iran). It could be shut down if it didn't sell," he lamented.

"I have not applied for a screening license for my films for a long time and I will never do it any more," he said.

A screenplay must be approved by the Culture Ministry to obtain a production license in Iran. In addition, the film's producer must apply for a screening license from the ministry for a domestic or foreign premiere.

No Iranian movie theaters, which are managed or supervised by the government, are allowed to premiere any films that fail to receive the necessary licenses.

However, even these official restrictions could not hinder the films from being seen. Copies of some short films by Kiarostami and his "Shirin" are currently being sold on the Iranian black market.

"Such a film doesn't have the chance to premiere in Iran, but those who are interested in this type of cinema get copies of these films on CD and DVD," Kiarostami said.

"I have thought about audiences and without them cinema is meaningless for me, but what the audience or critics think about my film is not my prime concern," he stated.

"That doesn't mean that I ignore the importance of the audience. After all, I am gaining experience in the cinema," he added.

"Shirin" is one of his most difficult experiences, Kiarostami said. "It is a special event and, at least in my mind, I won't go ahead after this," he explained.

"Shirin" comprises about 200 shots of female viewers, usually in single close-ups, with occasionally some men visible behind or on the screen edge, which have been mingled with sequence presenting the classic tale Khosrow and Shirin in a swift series of drawings and sound from the images.

Last year, Kiarostami criticized Iranian cultural officials, saying, "They have problems with independent filmmakers. They don't like my films. They decide what people will watch, and unfortunately, our people think that I am not interested in screening my films in Iran."

Some of the films that have been denied a screening license by the Culture Ministry are now being sold on Tehran's black market, which once was the exclusive domain of porno flicks, home video footage and bootleg copies of onscreen Iranian and foreign films.

... Payvand News - 02/21/10 ... --

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