Source: Tehran Times
Iran's Documentary and Experimental Film Center (DEFC) has announced that U.S. and Canadian companies will provide part of the budget for the production of "Laleh", a movie project about the first Iranian female race car driver, Laleh Seddiq.
The Los Angeles-based Iranian filmmaker Asadollah Niknejad, also known as Essy Niknejad, will direct the film. He is the owner of the production company INPinc in Los Angeles.
According to an agreement signed between the DEFC and the companies, the DEFC will cover only 25 billion rials ($1.3 million) of the total costs of the project and the rest will be funded by the companies, DEFC Director Shafi Aqamohammadian told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Sunday.
No names were mentioned for the companies.
He said that the film will cost about 70 billion rials (over $3.5 million). However, his immediate superior Javad Shamaqdari, Iran Cinema Organization director, said last week that 50 billion rials (over $2.5 million) will go to cover the expenses of producing the film.
The companies will provide the funding for the project due to their close relationships with Niknejad, Aqamohammadian said.
"The world premiere of the film and attracting more people to see it are the main concerns in managing the project," he stated.
"Therefore, to take these matters into consideration, we will hire celebrated foreign actors such as Ben Kingsley and Sean Penn," he added.
He said that the DEFC has rejected the companies request to hire a Hollywood actress to play the role of Laleh Seddiq in the film.
"We plan to use an non-professional actress, who is somewhat similar to Ms. Laleh Seddiq facially and physically," Aqamohammadian said.
Shamaqdari defended the movie project "Laleh" against severe criticism by filmmakers and others last week.
Shamaqdari called the project "a new experiment" during a press conference and said, "Films against us are produced outside Iran with foreign casts and in the English language. We felt it necessary for us to follow this method and to make such a film here."
The plan to allocate a large sum of money for the film project was censured by Iranian media outlets and a number of cineastes.
Filmmaker Mohammadreza Eslamlu, who is also a close friend of Shamaqdari, raised an objection to the project and said, "Making a film about the life of a female rally driver, namely Laleh, is quite trivial after all."
Eslamlu is director of "The 9/11 Black Box", a political documentary that casts doubt on the official story disseminated by the U.S. government about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In addition, the Fars News Agency published an article that criticized the decision to hire Niknejad for the project.
The writer of the article called Niknejad "a Hollywood director" and asked, "Can a Hollywood director make a film confronting anti-Iranian movies?"
Shamaqdari's advisor, Jalil Erfanmanesh, was commissioned to revise the screenplay of "Laleh", which was written by Niknejad.
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