Packed with prominent film directors, actors, international artists and a crème de la crème of Iran's cultural elite, Tehran's Fajr International Film Festival is undoubtedly Iran's biggest and most popular cinematic and cultural event of the year.
Each year, the festival attracts thousands of Iranian film and theater fans, especially young students. People flock to the event to see the latest Iranian films, a selection of productions from abroad and, perhaps, catch a glimpse of their favorite director, actor or actress.
But this year's festivities risk being overshadowed by politics and current unrest in the country. Some Iranian artists have called for a boycott of the festival, which is scheduled to kick off Jan. 25. Those urging a boycott are said to be angry about crackdowns on the political opposition.
Calls to boycott the festival also recently surfaced in media reports and on blogs and social-networking sites.
Radio Zamaneh, a Dutch-funded Persian-language radio station, reported that a group of Iranian filmmakers had issued a statement asking foreign artists to boycott this year's Fajr film festival over what they said was the Iranian "government’s violent treatment of the people."
"Your presence in this year’s Fajr Festival will be akin to ignoring the struggles of oppressed people of Iran for their rights," read the statement, according to Radio Zamaneh.