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"Manuscripts" Travels; Rasoulof Can't; Iranian Filmmaker Held in Iran

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • October 2, 2013 2:46 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Ever-evolving human rights violations in Iran against its filmmakers is often difficult to grasp. One moment, there appears to be liberalization and rejoicing; the next there are crackdowns and arrests. Is it clear to anyone what exactly Jafar Panahi's situation within Iran is at the moment, given that he has continued to make movies when he's been banned from doing so? His compatriot, Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested around the same time, has always appeared to be in a better position with the authorities, but recent news to the contrary suggests he is facing a pushback from the new Iranian regime.

Rasoulof's "Manuscripts" Flouts Iranian Censors, Invites Controversy

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 24, 2013 2:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who has been sentenced to a single year in jail by authorities in his home country, unveiled his latest movie in Cannes, "Manuscripts Don't Burn" yesterday; and it promises to only make matters more difficult for the courageous filmmaker. Like fellow Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who has been banned from making movies and sentenced to a longer prison term, the country's Judicial punishments appear to have done little to dampen their creative and activist spirits.

Iran Attacks "Hollywoodism"; Why They're Right, and Wrong

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 6, 2013 10:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
In the midst of Iran's prestigious 31st Fajr International Film Festival, which recently awarded its top prize to Iranian filmmaker Behnam Behzadi's family drama “The Rule of Accident,” an unfortunate parallel event is being conducted called "Hollywoodism and Cinema," which, by all accounts, is conservative Islamic propaganda aimed at demonizing Jews, Hollywood and Jewish Hollywood. The conference is making news on a number of fronts: the Western Media loves to highlight stories that show off Iran's more wacky ideologues; and there are also unsubstantiated reports that Malcolm Shabazz, Malcolm X's grandson, was arrested by the FBI on his way to Tehran to attend the conference. (Can some crime reporter please follow up on this?)

Behrouz Ghobadi, brother of Bahman Ghobadi, Released from Prison

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 22, 2013 8:51 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Kurdish Iranian filmmaker Behrouz Ghobadi – a younger brother of internationally acclaimed film director Bahman Ghobadi (Rhino Season) – has been freed from prison in Iran, according to Amnesty International. Since his arrest on November 4, Behrouz Ghobadi was held in an undisclosed location and unable to talk to anyone. His lawyer and members of his family were repeatedly refused in requests to see him.

"Argo" Reconsidered: Ben Affleck is a Right-Wing Propagandist

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • October 14, 2012 9:51 PM
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  • 63 Comments
Aside from a pro-Jimmy Carter coda and a few asides that show America's support of the repressive Iranian monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ben Affleck's "Argo" is essentially and overwhelmingly right-wing, pro-American propaganda, demonizing Iran as backward, barbaric, and fanatical--which is particularly problematic considering the United States' rising tensions with Iran. Sure, Affleck is depicting a moment of national crisis in Iran, when the country was gripped with an extremist Islamic fervor, but I suspect Iranian historians would have told Affleck's production team that not every single Iranian was a screaming, violent, fundamentalist--as they seem to be depicted in just about every scene of the film. We get angry Iranian mobs on the streets, in bazaars. in the airports. Is this really any better than that Chuck Norris' Iranian hostage exploitation film "Delta Force" from the 1980s?

Where is Jafar Panahi's "The White Balloon"?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 24, 2012 8:13 PM
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  • 3 Comments
A classic of the Iranian New Wave, and in its day, the most successful and acclaimed Iranian film to be released in the U.S. ever, Jafar Panahi's masterpiece "The White Balloon" looks to be AWOL from American screens, big and small. Maybe someone out there knows the status of U.S. home video distribution rights for this important film, but according to my research, "The White Balloon" appears to have vanished into the ether, available for purchase only on obscure Iranian movie websites and in Spanish PAL versions.

At Cannes, "Respectable Family" Indicts Iranian Society, Corruption

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 23, 2012 11:26 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"A Respectable Family," a new Iranian film which premiered in Cannes' Directors Fortnight section this week, won't do much to calm the strident anti-artist backlash in the country, which has put acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi under arrest indefinitely, and censored, harrassed and imprisoned countless others. Directed by Massoud Bakhshi (who made the much-admired personal documentary "Tehran Has No More Pomegranates"), the film tells the story of a young man, Arash, who, after more than two decades in Paris, returns to Iran where he becomes embroiled in the dark secrets of his family's past and Iranian society.

Will "A Separation" Oscar Win Hurt or Help Iranian Cinema?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 6, 2012 9:47 AM
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  • 3 Comments
It's practically a forgone conclusion that "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi's incisive examination of domestic and class struggle in Iran, will win the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the forthcoming Oscars. As I've mentioned before, the film reveals universal truths about fidelity and concealing it that transcends borders, and as of last weekend, I believe the movie became the top-grossing Iranian film in the U.S. ever (CORRECTION: Not yet, it's still got half-a-million to go to beat Majid Majidi's 2000 release "Color of Paradise"). It's a strong film, worthy of its screenplay nomination, as well, and by all measures, such success and accolades should be cause for celebration in the Iranian film industry. But it's not.

Iran's Hardliners Shutter Filmmakers' Guild

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 4, 2012 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
At a time when Iranian cinema is once again being heralded for its artistry and universal appeal -- with the release of Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" and expatriate Rafi Pitts' "The Hunter" -- the country's Culture Ministry is taking a controversial move in closing down the independent Iranian House of Cinema. According to the Associated Press, artists say political reasons are behind the decision.
More: Iran

"My Tehran For Sale" Actress Released; Flogging Sentence Commuted

  • By anthony
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  • October 28, 2011 3:24 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More: Iran

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