Arseh Sevom believes that the interference from governmental bodies and security forces is the primary cause for the problems facing one of the biggest NGOs in Iran. What has happened to the members of House of Cinema in the past few years is a violation of their rights as recognized by the international community and by article 26 of Iran’s own constitution. Over the past few years, members of the House of Cinema have been under pressure from security forces. Now, security forces have locked them out of their own building.
July 15, 2013 was another in a long list of bad days for Iran’s beleaguered House of Cinema. On the order of the Ministry of Culture, the building that houses the organization was broken into and shut down by the police.
Whether it is preventing filmmakers from making films or protesting the decisions of international festivals and awards committees, film has been in the news lately when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Envelope Please… “In the end, life is but memories. Bitter memories. Sweet Memories. There’s more to life than work…” a character [...]
Arseh Sevom — Kaleme.com has published an open letter against the closing of the House of Cinema signed by nearly 2000 people and organizations. All of the House of Cinema’s affiliated guilds signed along with a large number of its 5000 members. This list includes a number of renowned Iranian filmmakers and actors.
The House of Cinema was one of the Islamic Republic’s oldest independent civil society organizations, tracing its roots back to the late 80s. It has consistently operated openly, publishing much of its documents online. Relations with the government became increasingly strained after the 2009 presidential elections finally culminating in its closure in December 2011 on a technicality.
More in Persian on Kaleme.com
House of Cinema is one of the oldest post-revolution civil society organizations in Iran, in operation since 1989. You can read more about its overall objectives and more than two dozen affiliated organizations by clicking here. Arseh Sevom’s timeline of some of the events leading up to the dissolution of the House of Cinema can [...]
For the past 32 years there has been a complex relationship between the Iranian cinema industry and the Islamic republic. The ideologues of the Islamic revolution of 1979 sought justice and independence, dismissing the Shah as the figurehead of the status quo and opposing the West. The dawn of 1979 revolution started out with the mass persecution of actors, actresses, singers, musicians, dancers and other Iranian media figures. They were accused of having acted as accomplices of the former regime in propagating Western values – hence ‘westoxification’.
Asghar Farhadi, the director of the award winning film, Separation of Nader from Simin wrote a letter to the Ministry of Culture calling for a vote on the decision to dissolve the House of Cinema in Iran. The letter stated: “If the decision to dissolve the House of Cinema is based on the idea that the majority of the film community and members of the guild are in agreement with your method, then I suggest that you take a vote on this decision among the few thousand members of the House of Cinema.”
More info here.
Shirin Ebadi writes an open letter to Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, condemning the closure of Iran’s House of Cinema and stating that it is an abuse of human rights. From Radio Zamaneh: “Ebadi writes that professional and civil institutions are the very tools of democracy and, ‘according to the Islamic [...]
IRNA reports that the House of Cinema has been ordered closed: Iran’s Minister of Culture Mohammed Hosseini says the ministry determined that the 23-year old institution had no legal basis for operations. The managing director of the House of Cinema, Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur, was quoted in Tehran Times as saying, “I believe this letter has no [...]
The Iran Public Culture Council ruled that Iran’s House of Cinema was illegal. The decision was made to settle a lawsuit filed in early December against the organization by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
The House of Cinema, which began as a government sponsored initiative becoming independent in 1993, has been criticized a number of times for its positions. A few months earlier, in September, the organization received an official rebuke for its statement about the arrest of six Iranian documentary filmmakers, accused of “collaboration with the BBC Persian service.”
Later, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance questioned the organization’s legitimacy, claiming the real issue was amendments to the House of Cinema’s charter.
“Consequently, the guild faces a serious question about its legitimacy,” stated the culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini.
As a result, a lawsuit was filed by the ministry against the House of Cinema.
Actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to one-year in prison and 90 lashes. After international protest, this sentence was reduced to three months with no lashes.
Maziar Vafamehr was arrested for appearing in the film “Tehran for Sale” without hejab, but with her head shaved. Appearing in films without hejab was not unprecedented in Iran.
Several people who sold work to the BBC were summoned and arrested in September 2011. Six arrested were Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, co-director of banned film-maker Jafar Panahi’s latest film, Nasser Saffarian, Hadi Afariden, Shahnama Bazdar, Katayoun Shahabi and Mohsen Shahnazdar “Iranian documentary film-makers are not allowed to sell their films to channels hostile to the Islamic [...]