Film maker says Iran restricts creativity

Bahman Ghobadi, Iranian director, whose film "Half Moon" has been highly praised at the San Sebastian film festival, says it is increasingly difficult to work in Iran, where his latest movie has been banned because a woman sings in it.

    A scene from an Iranian documentary on transexuality

    "Imagine my frame of mind when, having placed all my hopes in  this film, after having done everything so that Iranians could see  it, the government then decides it cannot be screened. What energy have I got left to continue making films?" he said, on the sidelines of the San Sebastian film festival.


    "Half Moon" tells the story of a group of Iranian Kurd musicians en route to a concert in Iraq but includes a taboo subject: women singing.


    "In my country it is forbidden to listen to a woman's voice," explained the film director. And in the film the musicians are accompanied by a female singer, Hesho, whose voice is heard several times during the film.


    "I censored myself so that this film could be screened in Iran, but I did not get permission in the end, notably because this woman sings alone."


    The film is also a metaphor for the difficulties encountered by Iranian film makers. "I wanted to reflect a small part of what artistes suffer in Iran, where it is more and more difficult to make films."


    The problems along the road faced by Mamo, the oldest musician and leader of the group, in the film "are the same as those that artistes in my country face daily."


    Ghobadi, who won the top prize at the San Sebastian film festival, the Concha de Oro, in 2004 for his film "Turtles Can Fly," said he regretted the total lack of collaboration from Iranian authorities.


    "We tried for two months to get equipment, but the Iranian government did not want to help us," he explained.


    Contender for Oscars


    "You cannot imagine the difficulties encountered by a director in Iran"

    Kambiz Arshi, an actor

    Not even to get the pistol which appears in a scene. "A policeman finally lent us his," Ghobadi said.


    "You cannot imagine the difficulties encountered by a director in Iran," added Kambiz Arshi, an actor in Ghobadi's latest film.


    The highly applauded film was made in 40 days in the magnificent landscapes between Iraq and Iran "in very complex conditions," the director said.


    "I hope that I can continue to make films despite the hurdles put in our way so that we can do what we really love," he said, adding that he had six projects underway, including a film between New York and Tehran.


    "Half Moon," a moving and humorous full-length film, is a co-production between Iran, Iraq, Austria and France and will represent Iraq for the Oscars in February 2007 in Los Angeles.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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