In the announcement about the council, COI director Hossein Entezami actually commissioned the members to cope with “the plague of” festoxification, Iranian filmmakers’ attitude to make films for screening in international events.
Filmmakers make films at least for two simple reasons: first to express themselves, second to express viewpoints on a topic. Festivals and events alike give them this chance.
Due to their subjects, a large number of the films annually produced in Iran fail to be screened publicly.
Domestic distributors, major movie theaters or cineplexes view the films as non-commercial and, as a result, they are reluctant to allocate a place for the films on their schedules.
This negative attitude pushes the filmmakers to present their movies overseas, so they choose sensitive subjects from within the country for their works in order to convince festival organizers around the world to include them in their galas.
Dozens of Iran’s annual film productions are shorts and documentaries, which would either fail to obtain permissions for nationwide screening or at best receive limited screenings at the Art and Experience Cinema, movie theaters that are dedicated to screening art films. This organization only has 14 theaters across the country.
In its methodology to tackle festoxification, the Cinema Organization of Iran intends to push filmmakers to consider issues pleasing to cultural officials rather than topics satisfying to organizers of international events.
The officials feel dissatisfied with the way most directors choose topics for their films. An example is Bahram Tavakkoli, whose films such as “Barefoot in Heaven”, “Walking in the Fog” and “Here without Me”, with subjects pleasing to international festivals, never received a welcome from the cultural officials.
But his two recent films, “The Lost Strait” and “Gholamreza Takhti”, were feel-good stories that were welcomed by officials.
Cultural officials and certain people generally live with a belligerent attitude that those films accepted by international festivals give a dark image of Iran, and only such films can gain admission to these events.
It is only natural that international festivals are pursuing their own special policies and aims as do Iranian festivals, such as the Fajr International Film Festival and Cinema Verite.
The Cinema Organization of Iran needs to show greater tolerance toward filmmakers in order to create a balance in the productions seeking entry to international events. The organization also needs to make a change in its view of filmmakers who are frequent participants in international events. They are not enemies.
It also needs to improve infrastructures, one of which can be making arrangements for building more movie theaters. Fourteen theaters countrywide cannot possibly accommodate the great number of filmmakers who produce movies that are categorized as art films.
Source: Tehran Times