Iran’s film community is protesting the government’s decision to shutter the independently run Iranian House of Cinema for political reasons, including reportedly inviting Angelina Jolie to Tehran.
Culture Minister Mohammed Hosseini ordered the closure of the main organization representing and promoting the local film industry, claiming it operates illegally.
British paper the Telegraph reported that this conservative backlash was prompted after the House of Cinema invited Jolie to attend the 30th Fajr Festival, the state-run film event, which unspools in Tehran Feb. 1-11.
Jolie has been at the center of controversy in the country ever since Iranian news outlets reported in October that she was in talks with producer Ali Sartipi to shoot a film locally.
A large contingent of Iranian filmmakers is backing the House of Cinema in its clash with the culture ministry. Dozens of smaller Iranian film orgs, guilds and filmmakers — including Majid Majidi (“The Color of Paradise”), Bahman Farmanara (“A House Built on Water”), and actress Marzieh Vafamehr (“My Tehran for Sale”) have signed petitions and voiced protests.
Iran’s choice for the foreign film Oscar race is helmer Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” about a couple with opposite ideas about leaving Iran.