Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi
Following the EU sanctions which have been a hard-hit to Iran’s oil economy, the country is considering not taking part in the upcoming Venice International Film Festival in protest of the sanctions.
"Considering that the EU has imposed the strongest inhumane and illegal sanctions against Iran, we are naturally thinking of boycotting the Venice film festival," culture minister Alireza Sajjadpur said
He went on to state that the board is currently assessing the situation, and also added that Iranian film The Paternal House
by director Kianoush Ayari, will not be granted permission by Tehran to show at the festival unless it undergoes "corrections." This is in line with Iran’s longstanding tradition of not allowing Iranian films to screen if they do not agree with their portrayal of Islamic culture.
"The modifications have not been made yet. Consequently the film is not allowed to premiere in Iran and abroad," Sajjadpur said
Ayari’s film, which depicts the problems faced by Iranian women, is the only Iranian film chosen to take part in the official line-up of the festival. No Iranian movies have been selected to compete for the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion award, although Iranian/US filmmaker Ramin Behrani’s film At Any Price
is competing in the category.
Sajjadpur also stated that he hoped the report revealing that Ayari’s film will screen at the festival is not true.
A filmmaker who recently beat this system was Jafar Panahi, who managed to smuggle his latest production This is Not a Film
out of Iran in a USB flash drive hidden within a cake. The film was later shown at the Cannes Film Festival, while Panahi continued to serve a six-year house arrest sentence imposed on him for "propaganda against the regime."
The recent sanctions which have caused Iran to reconsider its participation in the Venice International Film Festival were handed down to the country by the European Union over its nuclear programme. The EU has actually enforced an embargo on Iranian oil imports, which is bad news for the Iranian economy which is very dependent on oil as a source of income.
Whether or not Ayari’s film will have the opportunity to be screened at the Venice Film Festival remains to be seen. As a filmmaker, Ayari is widely considered to be one of Iran’s greatest, having produced 11 feature films and a various number of other projects across his career.
The Venice International Film Festival runs from August 29 to September 8.