Omid Habibi-Nia

Summary: The Iranian cinema in 1999 experienced a year full of ups and downs. Among the important movies screened that year were: "The Red", "The Taste of Cherry", "Sweet Agony" and "The Color of God". Another interesting event in that year was the disclosure of the connection between famous film director Masood Kimiaii and a renegade intelligence official who was behind the killing of a number of writers and intellectuals. The article below reviews these events.


Among the events of the last year, was the disclosure of the links between Saeed Emami's gang and Masood Kimiaii and the latter's having been influenced by the gang's inducements in two films called The Banquet and The Sultan, which turned out to be very shocking. The deputy intelligence minister for security affairs (Emami) and his colleagues try to change movies into a security issue in 1994 and afterwards. They order the production of films through recruitment of well known film makers. The two films The Banquet and The Sultan are markedly influenced by the Saeed Emami cultists' inducements. The first is a story about the personal vendetta of a security agent and the second also has its core in personal vindictiveness and gets into finding fault with the constructional activities of the municipality which later on becomes the obvious target of a political faction.

A journalist, who had been an assistant to Kimiaii made an evaluation of all his films after divulging the links between Saeed Emami and Kimiaii, which also include The Mercedes.

This was not the only noise making cinematic scandal case. Late in March, Nasser Saffarian, a film critic of (the now banned) Salaam daily was abducted and was asked to confess to his enmity to value imbued films and that he was in fact an agent of the cultural onslaught (of the West). Furthermore, he was subjected to a long interrogation for two days. Among those questions put to him was the information concerning the statement of 33 individual critics in condemnation of the assassination of writers and critics and he was asked to provide the reasons for the issuance of the statement. (33 critics made this statement on their own initiatives in January 1998 after they failed to convince the association of writers to issue this statement in condemnation of Saeed Emami gang's atrocities). Safarrian (the journalist) was released after two days of captivity in their hands on Behesht-e Zahra Freeway. The identities of his captors never became known, until in the middle of Fajr Film Festival, Ahmad Reza Darvish (film director) was kidnapped by a group and was harshly interrogated for seven hours in order to give explanations to the concepts of his latest film Born in October. His captors suspected he was as a matter of fact trying to insult the Basij (voluntary forces during the Iran-Iraq war). The abductors let Darvish go, this time somewhere around Karaj near Tehran. Darvish had to be immediately hospitalized in Dey Hospital and he refrained from saying anything for one whole week.

Among other things that happened during 1999 was the highly controversial case of Kish episodic film. No Episode, made by Bahram Beyzaii, which according to may critics was the best episode in Kish, was sent to Cannes Film Festival. There was such a tumult caused by this film that the film producers asked the secretary of the festival not to screen the film during the competition. The film, which was the result of the cooperation of famous film makers regretfully failed to be to the liking of many.

Among other things that took place last year was the eventual return of Children and Young Adults Film Festival to its place of birth, that is the city of Isfahan after a few years of delay. Although there were no new film screened during this festival, it was more seen to be acting in stabilization of the festival. The Fajr Film Festival was in the end turned into a political challenge through films giving express and obvious support to the reform movement before the parliament general elections on February 18, 2000. Although there were more films in connection with the social conditions of the country in this festival, they failed to include any new bold and progressive initiatives. Among the achievements of this festival was the screening of some films with stereo sound.

Shahriar; Cultural & Social (Quarterly), No. 1
Spring 2000