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IRAN: Khamenei commands filmmakers to abide by political and Islamic restrictions

July 3, 2010 | 11:23 am

Instead of inspiring the nation's artists to ever greater heights, Iran's supreme leader delivered a blunt warning to filmmakers to avoid subjects that challenge his vision of the Islamic Republic.

 "Our film directors should offer products in which positive points eclipse negative and dark points of our society," Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a group of filmmakers Saturday. "If you magnify negative points, the society will plunge into disenchantment."

Khamenei is God's representative on Earth, according to Iran's unique form of government. His words, published in Persian on his official website, are often taken as marching orders by the nation's hard-line enforcers of cultural and morality standards. 

They must have sent a chill down the spines of an Iranian film scene that only a few years ago produced internationally recognized gems by directors such as Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi, who recently was jailed for trying to make an underground movie. Other directors are simply silenced by not being granted permits to make films by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. 

Khamenei dismissed complaints that censorship was getting out of control.

"Sometimes, our artists raise unrealistic concerns about the [restrictions] they face in producing critical films," he said. "Some ... criticisms against films and television series are correct and they have to respect certain moral, religious and cultural red lines. Transgressing these red lines will be extremely harmful."

He singled out gender relations as a subject that must be depicted in accord with his interpretation of Islamic norms. "Promoting the wrong ways of communications between men and women is absolutely unnecessary," he said."The Iranian nation has always been noble and chaste, but foreign networks are undertaking incessant efforts to invade chastity and hijab in a bid to destroy the foundation of families in Iran."

He also ordered filmmakers to avoid broaching politically sensitive topics. The country continues to reel from the aftereffects of the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the violent crackdown against opposition supporters and moderate politicians that followed.

"In all products, you should take into consideration the ongoing political events, specifically the animosity of bullying powers against the Iranian nation," he said. "Those who claim to be friends of Iran have proven their enmity to our history and culture by their anti-Iranian films. Under such circumstances, any politically motivated show has to be performed carefully not to play into the hands of enemies."

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: Picture made available by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's official website shows Khamenei speaking June 4. Credit: EPA / handout