Two hundred Iranian filmmakers have written a letter to Abbas Salehi, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, objecting to the censorship of works selected for the 35th Tehran International Short Film Festival scheduled to take place between November 9 and 13.
The festival’s selection committee had announced a list of 108 films of which 15 were deemed unsuitable for screening and excluded from the competition by the ministry’s supervisory board.
The signatories to the letter argue that the festival offers the only venue for short films to be screened. “International audiences have always supported Iranian short films,” the letter said. “We believe that the ministry must support and not censor the artistic works of the young filmmakers who are the cultural treasures of our country.”
For instance, the supervisory board rejected Afshin Akhlaghi’s short film “Salmon” (2018) despite an earlier decision by the selection committee to include it in the competition section of the festival. Mr. Akhlaghi studied at the Iranian Youth Cinema Society.
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“Unfortunately, the films that the jury selected were excluded from the festival by the supervisory board. Who is responsible for this situation? How did we get to this point?” Akhlaghi asked. “Is it right for an independent filmmaker to face such a problem, particularly in the current economic situation? An independent filmmaker has to overcome many obstacles to produce a piece of work. A film festival offers the only cultural venue for artists to showcase their work. Being excluded from such a significant cultural event is emotionally and psychologically devastating.”
Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi