GUIDE TO IRANIAN FILM (POLITICS)

  1. Significant directors
    Makmalbauf, Panahi, Ghobadi, Kiarostami, Farhadi - these are the most notable
  2. Aesthetic
    As a result of low production budgets and restrictions, Iranian films feature amateur actors, long takes, open-ended narratives and a blurring of fiction and documentary.
  3. Regulations
    Cinema is regulated by the MCIG (Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance), which controls film production through permits, financing, domestic and international distribution.
  4. What is censored
    No Iranian director living in Iran is going to make a film with a lot of sex and violence. In the past, censorship has focused on the attitude of the film and whether it portrays living in Iran in a positive light. A film is more likely to be censored or denied a permit if it is "too dark."
  5. Before 1979
    During the Pahlavi regime, film was still censored but it was to make sure that Iran seemed really modern. This concern is still relevant today.
  6. Distribution
    Govt. no longer has monopoly on distribution, but filmmakers must get authorization from the MCIG before they screen their films abroad. Failure to get authorization may result in an arrest (as happened with Ghobadi and 6 documentary filmmakers who sold their films to the BBC)
  7. Fajr Film Festival
    Annual film festival in Iran. Allows regime to control distribution, judges classify films into A, B, C, D categories. Films that do well here will get good distribution, films that don't will not.
  8. House of Cinema
    Filmmakers guild in Iran, representing around 5,000 members of all film professions. Was dissolved in 2011 for "making changes to its bylaws without authorization" but really HOC defended persecuted directors and the regime was pissed. Re-established 2013 with the Rouhani presidency.
  9. Politics
    As a result of not wanting to upset the regime, most if not all Iranian directors will claim their work is apolitical. Themes are humanistic, with few overt references to religion. Exceptions would include The Lizard (2004), which satirized the Iranian clergy.
  10. Actresses
    In Iran, women must be veiled in public, but not in their own homes. This creates a dilemma because women can't be shown without veils on if the film is to be shown domestically. But if the women do have veils on, it's unrealistic. As a result, films with adult actresses are often shot out on the street. Actresses have in the past shaved their heads to get around this issue.
  11. Art House Cinemas
    The MCIG will classify a film as either a commercial film or an art film. It's actually bad to be categorized as an art film because there are so few art house cinemas in Iran and you'll get basically no domestic distribution.
  12. International implications
    Iranian filmmakers get most of their support/recognition from festivals abroad. Some worry that this dependence skews the way Iranian films are made, that they're starting to just make what they think a western, festival-going audience wants to see. Regime is skeptical of these foreign festivals' recognition of Iran, thinks there's an agenda.
  13. Regime stance toward Hollywood
    Regime is wary of "Hollywoodism" corrupting Iranian public life and perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes about Iran (most notably this was seen in its response to Argo.) Filmmakers are obviously friendly to the West - they depend on international distribution and film festival honors for $$$$
  14. Hollywood stance toward Regime
    I mean, negative....
  15. Future
    With the possible declining power of Iran's hardliners, it's likely that the regime will ease up on civil society. Panahi feels that directors have a responsibility to stand up to censorship, for the sake of the younger generation of artists. Even without political action, new digital technology and lower production costs have made it so Iranians don't have to rely on the regime for $ as much as they used to.