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Iranian filmmakers criticize Culture Ministry for new censorship rules

Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Three Iranian documentary filmmakers criticized the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for its plan to establish a council to exercise control over the foreign premiere of Iranian short and documentary films.

On Saturday, Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs Javad Shamaqdari assigned Iran's Experimental and Documentary Film Center (EDFC) the task of establishing the council as soon as possible.

Those films that can obtain approval from the council would be allowed to participate in foreign markets and festivals, Shamaqdari said in letter sent to EDFC director.

"It's an astonishing decision for me as a filmmaker," Mahnaz Afzali told the persian service of ISNA on Sunday.

Her documentary, "The Red Card", has been screened at several foreign festivals.

Any decision to restrict partial freedom of Iranian short and documentary filmmakers won't produce desirable outcomes, she said.

"A documentary film gives a true image of events. Do we want to escape from the truth?" she lamented.

"In a world where people are dismantling all barriers to the dissemination of information, such restrictions won't be practicable," documentarian Nasser Saffarian said.

Due to the lack of venues for screening short and documentary films in Iran, another Iranian filmmaker Hadi Afrideh said, "Even when all doors are closed here, directors of these productions still want their work eventually to be shown somewhere in the world."

Iranian feature-length filmmakers also have to obtain approval from a council, which was recently established by Shamaqdari, to premiere their films in foreign events.

Iranian films selected for foreign premieres should not tarnish our national image, Shamaqdari previously said.

As a result of this policy, several Iranian films including Abdorreza Kahani's "Nothing", a social drama on a deprived family, were refused permission to participate by the council in the Cannes Film Market, which ended last week.


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