Awarded Iranian film director speaks about censorship and restriction

In a video interview with Euronews in Cannes, film director Asghar Farhadi talks about the current restraints on Iranian film-makers.

Asghar Farhadi

In February 2012, Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi’s film ‘Separation’ won two Oscar nominations and took the award for Best Foreign Language film, the first Iranian movie to win the honour. And in Cannes in May 2012, his next film project was selected for a 60,000 euro ‘Prix MEDIA’ award.

Euronews: “An artist – and I consider you as a filmmaker and screenwriter as an artist – you must have a certain freedom of artistic expression. Where is the borderline for you between artistic expression and freedom, and state censorship?”

Asghar Farhadi: “For someone like me and of my generation who was born and has grown up with these restrictions be they at home, at school, on the street, or at university; sometimes this borderline between being restricted and not being restricted is blurred. Not in the same sense that I sometimes hear: ‘Restrictions lead to creativity’. This is wrong to say. Perhaps in the short run, restrictions can bring about creativity but, in the long term, it destroys it. Therefore, if there were no restrictions for Iranian film-makers, we would have seen more creativity from them.”

Euronews: “There are a lot of Iranian film directors who cannot work the way they wish in Iran. Some Western journalists call this a problem of censorship. How would you explain the problem?

Asghar Farhadi: “The problem is not a very clear and transparent problem that I can define for you. Perhaps if we summarise it in one word, it is the same as you say, censorship and restriction. This is not just from the system, not just from the authority and the ruling system.

“Some of this censorship is within the artist or the film-maker without them being aware of it, and this is more dangerous, because if there are restrictions on the outside, you can see them, you can get it, you can recognise it, experience it and find a way for going through it.

“But when it is within your own mind, you will not be able to find it. It is like someone who is ill but does not know about his illness and feels that he is healthy. This is dangerous.”


Euronews – 23 May 2012:
Farhadi – self-censorship ‘real danger’ for Iranian filmmakers



Related article

Los Angeles Times – 27 May 2012:
Iranian filmmaking at two extremes
The directors are in the spotlight on the world stage after ‘A Separation’s’ Asghar Farhadi won an Oscar. Their struggles to make films has led some to leave the country to work and others to continue to work within the country’s system. By Steven Zeitchik


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