Director of "The Outcasts" trilogy Masud Dehnamaki has said that it takes guts to make a film like "Scandal", his latest film which challenges Iran's official view on Muslim clerics. "Certain people lament that this film would raise people's expectations about the clerics," he said during a meeting held at the 31st Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran on Tuesday to review the film.
"The film's aim is such. It gives a fillip to us and it holds a mirror in front of us. Nowadays, clerics have distanced themselves from people with their involvement in politics," he added.
"Scandal" tells the story of Haji Yusef, a cleric living among the ordinary people in a poor district of Tehran. He meets Afsaneh, an infamous woman, who is on the verge of complete moral corruption. Haji Yusef decides to help Afsaneh, but he faces some problems.
Elnaz Shakerdoost in Scandal
The film did not receive much of a warm welcome from the Iranian officials and MPs who watched it weeks before its premiere at the Fajr festival.
Dehnamaki, who is also the producer of the film, said that he did not need approval of the cultural authority to make the film and added, "It takes guts to make such a film."
"I try to tell whatever I consider important to say in a film, because they may not allow me to make my next film," he noted.
Dehnamaki also was criticized for choosing comedian Akbar Abdi to play the role of Haji Yusef.
He compared an actor with a loudspeaker and said, "Logically speaking, we would not refuse to use a loudspeaker when mourning due to the fact that it has previously been used in a wedding ceremony."
"We hired Akbar Abdi due to his popularity," he stated.
Director Masud Dehnamaki attends a review session after a screening of his latest film "Scandal" at the 31st Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran on February 5, 2013. (ISNA/Ruhollah Vahdati)
Dehnamaki was formerly the managing director and chief editor of the weeklies "Shalamcheh" and "Jebheh", which covered subjects on the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
In 2002, he cut his teeth as a filmmaker on "Poverty & Prostitution", a documentary focusing on Iranian women engaged in prostitution due to poverty.
He had said that he made the documentary to show the crisis of justice in Iranian society. The film never premiered in Iran. However, bootleg copies of the film were selling like hot cakes on the black market.
"Which Blue, Which Red?", his next documentary on the rivalry between the Iranian capital's two football teams, Esteqlal and Persepolis, and their fans was a complete flop.
He made his feature debut in 2007 with "The Outcasts", about a group of gangs that head to the front during the Iran-Iraq war. He then made two sequels to the comedy drama.