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Film director apologizes to regime to get license.

The government last week revoked the filming license to punish a top Iranian director for critical remarks he had made, but this week reissued the license after the director apologized.

Asghar Farhadi was already shooting "Separation of Nader and Simin" when the Culture Ministry pulled his license and forced the shooting to be halted last week.

Farhadi, 37, had won international acclaim for his film "About Elly," the story of a woman who vanishes on a weekend outing with friends, setting off a chain of lies to maintain appearances and traditional social mores in Iran's conservative society. Farhadi won the best director award at last year's Berlin Film Festival for that movie.

Farhadi was banned from making his new movie because of his alleged support for dissident filmmakers. But that was reversed after he tendered an apology to the Culture Ministry, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) said Saturday.

"The authorization to resume making the film by Farhadi has been issued after his apologies and following a speech made by the culture minister Thursday," ILNA quoted a public relations officer at the ministry, Hamid-Reza Dibai, as saying. "He can now start filming from Saturday."

According to news reports, Culture Minister Mohammad Hossaini had said on the sidelines of a seminar Thursday that Farhadi "had realized his mistakes."

"The main issue is not Farhadi or his film.... We believe that cultural and artistic groups ... must not be involved in political matters," the minister said despite official insistence that the Iranian public enjoys freedom of speech.

On September 26, the Sharq daily quoted Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari as saying the authorities had revoked the filming permit because of the director's "inappropriate" comments at a recent Iranian awards ceremony.


At the ceremony, Farhadi wished for "change" as he spoke out in favor of actress Golshifteh Farahani and directors Jafar Panahi, who spent over three months in jail, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, emigre filmmaker and vocal backer of Iran's opposition Green Movement.

Farahani had infuriated hardliners in Iran by appearing in a Hollywood film, "Body of Lies," without first seeking permission from the Iranian government. The 27-year-old actress has lived in self-imposed exile in France since then.

Iran jailed Panahi for three months this year over an "unauthorized" film about the postelection unrest. Panahi denied making any such film.

Iranian filmmakers must obtain authorization from the Culture Ministry before shooting and all artistic productions and books are subject to vetting before release.

Filmmakers, writers and artists in Iran have complained of increased censorship under President Ahmadi-nejad, with many of them publicly backing opposition leader Mir-Hossain Musavi against him in last year's election.
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Title Annotation:Culture: From then to now
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Oct 8, 2010
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