Controversial filmmaker: Iran needs a bit of cinematic tolerance

Posted on December 1, 2012

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Tahmineh_MilaniThe total control that is being applied to culture in Iran is breaking it apart, famous Iranian actress, filmmaker Tahmineh Milani said in Baku.

Milani is among the jury members who took part in the grand opening of the VIII International “START” Youth Film Festival that is being hosted in Azerbaijani capital on 28-30 November.

Milani noted that Iranian cinema’s presence in the region has diminished, as those who handle culture related questions in Iran, do not pay attention to independent filmmakers.

“Currently, we rarely see an Iranian film getting recognition on the world arena. I frequently participate at various film festivals as a jury member, and I can see the potential of Iranian films,” Milani said. “However as of lately, there haven’t been many of films from Iran being submitted to these festivals.”

She said that the above fact shows that Iranian films are not being paid attention to, and they’re not allowed to be promotioned to the world audience.

“This hurts not just Iranian directors, but the country itself,” she said. “I think, we need a bit of cinematic tolerance, and allow some way for critical films to be made, as this is the essence of cinema.”

Some Iranian media outlets have called Milani a “feminist” – something that she denies.

“I never said I was a feminist. I make films about women, because I believe in balance between the sexes. I believe in healthy family, where man and woman have equal rights. I don’t believe that women are better than men, so the word “feminist” does not apply in my case,” she said.

Milani noted that she makes movies that can help middle-class women to feel balanced.

“There are various forms of feminism. Feminism in Sweden, in US, in Iran and Saudi Arabia is different from one another,” she said.

Speaking about her next film, Milani noted that she has not made a film in three years, to which were certain reasons.

“Unfortunately, because the situation in Iran changed with the new government, the control over art has been very intense,” Milani said. “I’ve recently been granted a licence to make another film, and the project will probably happen some time next year.”

She also revealed some details about her new film, the topic of which is quite familiar to Iran.

“My film centers around a story of a girl, during the hard times of Iran-Iraq war,” Milani said. “So, the viewers will see the war from this girl’s perspective.”

Milani also spoke highly of the neighboring Azerbaijan country, that is hosting the film festival.

“I am not alien to the culture of Azerbaijan. I listen to Azerbaijani songs, I watch old movies with my family. I feel like Baku is second Tebriz, it feels so close,” Milani said.

When asked if she one day decides to make a film in Azerbaijan, Milani noted that she definitely would, if the opportunity presents itself.

“I’ve won several awards as director at Los Angeles film festivals, and I’ve had inquiries about movie projects. However, not all of them were within my ideology and thoughts,” Milani said. “If Azerbaijan presents me with such opportunity, I will definitely accept it. Currently, I am in the middle of talks with Turkey, for a possible movie to be made there.”

About six months ago, Iranian government decided to close down “Khaneh Cinema” – Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds, noting it was involved in illegal activities.

“I think this was new government’s biggest cultural mistake, as they unknowingly gave support to the enemies, by doing such a move,” Milani noted.

Milani added that such approach to culture in Iran affected not just the directors, but other people working in the industry as well.

“While directors, writers and producers can do on working, the actors get older, and it affects them as the time goes on,” Milani said.

Despite this, Milani believes that thinking that Iranian cinema is dying is wrong.

“Cinema stay, while as the governments change every four years,” Milani said. “I sincerely hope that the Khaneh Cinema would be opened soon.”

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Posted in: iran society