Iran’s Ministry of Culture withdrew the screening permit for director Mani Haghighi’s film ’50 Kilos of Tart Cherries’ in the city of Tabas in central Iran after a local imam during Friday prayers said the film is “destroying revolutionary values”, reported Radio Zamaneh on 30 May 2016.
Imam Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Mohajerian criticised the ministry for not paying close enough attention to its duties when screening films, specifically criticising minister of guidance Ali Jannati for allowing the permit.
Jannati has said that the movie was “in no way appropriate” and that he wouldn’t have approved the permits for its screening or production if he had known its content. Ministry spokesman Hossein Nooshabadi also said the film did not “comply with certain regulations” and the its permit would be changed to only allow home distribution.
In an open letter, Haghighi protested the decision saying that the film had gone through 14 readings and was reviewed twice by the Council of Screening Permits, which called for 17 changes, after which it was approved for screening.
The comedic movie takes place at a wedding that is raided by the police and stars several top Iranian comedians.
Religious pressure increasing
This latest episode of religious pressure on artists in Iran is just one of an increasing trend in the country as conservative hardliners over recent months clash with the moderate government.
In May 2016 two of Iran’s top musicians – Shahram Nazeri and Kayvan Kalhor – were prevented from performing in several locations in north-eastern Khorosan Razavi Province due to religious conservative pressure.
In the same province, in January 2016, a group of musicians and artists petitioned the governor to lift the ban on holding music concerts in the city of Mashad, the province’s capital. The ban was imposed by various imams and has been replicated in other cities
In February 2016 one of Iran’s most famous actresses, Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, was attacked by religious hardliners at a screening of her latest movie in a city in the central Isfahan Province.
» RadioZamaneh – 30 May 2016:
Controversial comedy barred from screening in city of Tabas in Iran
» Freemuse.org – 23 May 2016:
Iran: Concerts cancelled under pressure from religious conservatives
» Artsfreedom.org – 24 February 2016:
Iran: Actress attacked at film screening
» Freemuse.org – 8 January 2016:
Iran: Musicians call for lifting concert ban