Filmmaking in Iran

Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian actress, was arrested in June and sentenced by a court on the 8th October to spend a year in prison and be lashed 90 times.

Vafamehr starred in the 2009 film ‘My Tehran for Sale‘, the plot of which is given on the IMDb as:

Marzieh is a young female actress living in Tehran. The authorities ban her theatre work and, like all young people in Iran, she is forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically. At an underground rave, she meets Iranian born Saman, now an Australian citizen, who offers her a way out of her country and the possibility of living without fear.

What exactly her crimes were seems to be disputed, which perhaps reflects the limited information available but apparently they include breaches of Shari’a law and the nebulous concept of appearing in a film which casts Iran in a negative light.

The latter is deeply ironic considering the brief spurt of outrage that occurred when the world found out about the story but as I’ve noted before, the Iranian government manages to do irony quite well, although I doubt that it is ever deliberate.

Hers though is not the first arrest or conviction of a member of the Iranian film industry in recent years – merely the first one to catch the attention of much of the Western MSM. Call me cynical but that wouldn’t have anything to do with her being reasonably attractive, would it?

It appears that this crackdown on the film industry began after the disputed 2009 presidential election, won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with those who supported rival candidates bearing the brunt of the government’s displeasure.

Two directors who attempted to make a documentary abount the unrest which followed the election, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, have been sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban, and a five-year prison term respectively for acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.

In September six other filmmakers – Hadi Afarideh, Shahnam Bazdar, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Naser Saffarian, Katayoun Shahabi and Mohsen Shahrnazdar – were arrested for providing the BBC with material deemed damaging to Iran. Two have since been released.

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