Iran: Censorship and controversy mar Fajr Film Festival

The 32nd Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran has been riddled with controversy, including numerous incidences of censorship during the live broadcasts and backlash against two films dealing with the sensitive topics of Ashura and the 2009 elections.


The live broadcast of the closing ceremony of the film festival was interrupted by the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ezatollah Zarghami, so often that Ghanoun mockingly awarded Zarghami the ‘Best Censorship’ prize on its front page.

The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) compiled alist of the moments IRIB cut from the broadcast.

One of the most notable interruptions, according to ISNA, was when Seyed Jamal Satadian accepted his Best Producer award for his film ‘Azar, Shahdokht, Parviz and Others’.

Just as he said during his speech, “I am hopeful that we reach a point where we tolerate all of the tastes,” the live feed was immediately cut. It appears that state tv cut into the ceremony mostly when the winners of specific films approached the podium to accept their Crystal Phoenix statues.

Before the closing ceremony, there had been a debate between Zarghami and Culture Minsiter Ali Jannati, who was responsible for organizing the event. Zarghmai had objected to the host Jannati had chosen for the closing ceremony, saying that he was “forbidden to work” on television.

Jannati defiantly responded that there is no such type of ban in Iran, but Zarghami won the battle and Jannait was forced to find another host.

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