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Iran's Fajr Film Festival hit by calls for boycott and rumors

By Mostafa Mousavi Sabet, Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Organizers striving to enliven Fajr Film Festival

The organizers of the 28th edition of the Fajr International Film Festival, Iran's most important film gala, are trying to liven up the event as it seems to have been overshadowed by the post-election unrest. Over the past few weeks, it was rumored that a number of Iranian cineastes plan to boycott the festival in protest at the Iranian government's actions toward the opposition. However, this has not been confirmed by anyone.

The organizers of the festival have yet to announce the members of the festival's jury as some cineastes have refused to serve on it.

Actor Ezzatollah Entezami said that he could not accept the organizers' request due to his illness while actress Fatemeh Gudarzi, screenwriters Minu Farshchi, Farhad Tohidi, and director Asghar Farhadi rejected the appeal for various reasons, such as conflicting travel plans.

It has been rumored that Abbas Kiarostami has also refused to participate in the jury. So far, no official comment has been published about this report.

Festival secretary Mehdi Masudshahi said on Thursday that the jury members will be announced during the closing ceremony of the event -- a bizarre decision, which has never occurred before in any other edition of the festival.

"Announcing the names of the jury members beforehand may cause problems, so the names will be announced during the closing ceremony of the festival," he said on a TV program.

In previous years, Iranian filmmakers and producers used to make every effort to complete their films in time to participate in the gala, but such endeavors were not seen this year.

The organizers lifted the ban on some films in order to add them to the festival's lineup. Analysts said that this move was made to liven up the festival.

They first gave a green light to Ebrahim Hatamikia's "In Color of Purple", a political drama which is slated to open the festival. The film was banned in 2005, when it was originally submitted to the Fajr International Film Festival.

Hamid Farrokhnejad's debut film, "Territory", which was made about ten years ago, also was granted a screening license by the Culture Ministry to participate in the event.

"Nothing" by director Abdorreza Kahani, "Fire Keeper" by Mohsen Amiryusefi, and "Frigidness" by Ali Ruintan also received approval from the ministry for screening at the festival.

For the first time, in order to put the best face on the festival, critics, journalists, and cineastes are scheduled to watch the films in a modern theater located in Tehran's Milad Tower.

The 11-day festival officially opens tomorrow and screenings of the films will begin on Monday.

Related Article:

IRAN Annual film festival to kick off amid opposition calls for boycott Babylon & Beyond - Radio Zamaneh, a Dutch-funded Persian-language radio station, reported that a group of Iranian filmmakers had issued a statement asking foreign artists to boycott this year's Fajr film festival over what they said was the Iranian "government's violent treatment of the people." "Your presence in this year's Fajr Festival will be akin to ignoring the struggles of oppressed people of Iran for their rights," read the statement, according to Radio Zamaneh. - Los Angeles Times

... Payvand News - 01/22/10 ... --

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