Making films in Iran means a dance on the red line. It does not follow any laws, its rules change constantly.
The town of Lavasan is located east of Tehran on the slopes of the Albors Mountains. The taxi ride takes a good 30 minutes, the switchbacks run through a landscape of brown rocks. Lavasan used to be a village. The houses have few floors and red gabled roofs, there are also luxury villas, and because of the many maple trees, the air is better than in Tehran. Above all wealthy Iranians and artists live in Lavasan.
Weird Laws In Iran
One of them is the director Mani Haghighi. He lived in Canada for a long time and looks like George Clooney. His film The Arrival of a Dragon was screened in the Berlinale competition in 2016. A surreal thriller with powerful colors. In Iranian cinemas this year, Mani Haghighi made it into fourth place with the comedy “50 Kilos of Sour Cherries”, one of the most successful films in Iranian history.
Mani Haghighi: “The film starts at a wedding party. The police come and a young man and a young woman find themselves in a room. He only wears underwear and is arrested. Everyone thinks they had sex, even though we know that this is not true. The film has caused controversy here. The conservative press went crazy because they couldn’t believe there was a sex comedy going on in the cinema that was so explicit by Iranian standards. ”
During the interview, Mani Haghighi receives a message on her cell phone: There is a rumor that “50 kilos of sour cherries” are prohibited. And that is exactly what happens a few weeks later – however, the film is no longer shown in Iranian cinemas at the time. It remains a mystery why the authorities approve the script and the finished film and then ban it afterward. Maybe because he was so successful much like banning successful journalists who found a gold mine of information.
Making films in Iran means: working until further notice. Mani Haghighi is prepared
“I am always amazed at what they let through in my films and what they want to take out. I never understood the logic of censorship in Iran. What I do, and it’s no secret: I film things that I know are going to be taken out just to meet their need to cut something out. ”
Over 100 feature films are made in Iran every year, more than in many European countries. The Islamic Republic supports filmmakers with foundations and money. Even the “Ministry of Culture and Islamic Leadership” – responsible for censorship – does that. Of course, only films that do not cross the red lines. They are not written down anywhere, but everyone in the country knows or better: feels them. In addition to sex scenes, criticism of the country’s religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is taboo.
Iranian films often get awards at major festivals. Watch these top-notch films that will capture your interest in Filmy online. This year the new film by Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi was shown in Cannes. A year earlier, Jafar Panahi brought the Golden Bear to the Berlinale with “Taxi Tehran”. He shows the paradox of Iranian cinema: Panahi is celebrated abroad, and at home, he is banned from working. Nevertheless, he continues to shoot – with a minimal budget, digital camera and in reasonably protected locations, in the house or in a taxi. He smuggles his films out of the country and is not allowed to give interviews.