'Propaganda for the world oppressor' also forbidden

Iran’s hardline Islamic regime has banned all foreign films deemed to promote “secular, feminist, liberal or nihilist ideas.”

Announcement last week by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, the watchdog org headed by new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also forbids movies that feature “violence, narcotics consumption and propaganda for the world oppressor” — a term specially reserved for the United States.

Decision reverses prior moves by ex-president Mohammad Khatami to open up Iran to Western culture and will likely add more fuel to Iran’s massive black market and illicit satellite viewership.

Iran’s total annual box office revenues amount to approximately $14 million, of which only 3% is attributed to foreign films. Hollywood films that play in the country do so only through unofficial channels, owing to the U.S. embargo on trade with Iran.

But there’s a huge demand in the black market for uncut versions of foreign films on DVD.

“The total turnover of black-market entertainment is easily 50 times more,” says Mohammad Atebbai, head of Iranian Independents, the country’s leading indie production house.

Satellite dishes, though officially illegal, are also hugely popular. Estimates put the number of households in Tehran with satellites at as high as 50%.

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