LONDON — In yet another sign that officials in Iran are attempting to put a muzzle on some of its independent filmmakers, Abdolreza Kahani’s “Absolutely Tame Is a Horse” has been banned by the government, and prints of the pic are being prevented from leaving the country.
Kahani’s pic was due to world preem next week at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where it was screening in the main competition for narrative features, but has subsequently been pulled from the program due to the ban.
Pic was also skedded to screen in Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center at the end of October as part of its annual Festival of Films from Iran, but has also been forced to be pulled from the lineup.
Pic, which stars Reza Attaran and Habib Rezai, was condemned by the Iranian government due to its depiction of police corruption in Iran. The story is set against the backdrop of one long night in Tehran, and tackles the police corruption subject as a jumping-off point.
“It’s sad when we can’t show a good work as our mission is to highlight regional and international cinema,” said Peter Scarlet, exec director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. “It’s an outstanding film that people won’t get to see now.”
Scarlet said that no other pic will be slotted into the “Absolutely Tame Is a Horse’s” place in competish.
“A film festival is designed as a place for people from different cultures to exchange ideas and the work of one country to be seen in another,” he said. “We’re not passive recipients of films that people submit. We go and look for them, and when we find good films it’s a pleasure, and one of our thrills it to hopefully find other audiences for that film. The fact that the world premiere of this film isn’t happening, and by all accounts may not be shown anywhere, makes me very sad.”
A statement on the Gene Siskel Film Center website said: “The banning of several new films is only one aspect of a cruel crackdown on Iran’s vulnerable film community, which has also resulted in the September 17 arrests of filmmakers Mohsen Shahrnazdar, Hadi Afarideh, Naser Safarian, Shahnam Bazdar, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Katayoun Shahabi.”
The six filmmakers were arrested by the Iranian government and charged with espionage for working with the BBC, and for allegedly portraying a negative view of Iran in their pics.
Mirtahmasb co-directed underground pic “This Is Not a Film” with Jafar Panahi, a docu about Panahi’s plight as he is confined to his apartment, pending an appeal against a six-year prison sentence, and 20-year ban from making films.
Panahi is known for making pics critical of the Iranian government, such as “The Circle.”
Mirtahmasb managed to travel to the Cannes Film Festival in May for the preem of the docu, which was smuggled into Gaul on a USB stick hidden inside a cake.