Paris, 23 Aug. (IPS) Once again the Iranian clerical-led authorities shot themselves on their foot by preventing a popular actress from leaving the country for Hollywood where she was due to negotiate new movie contracts, after she performed in the Ridley Scott’s “Body of Lies”.
According to the official news agency IRNA, the reason the Islamic Guidance and Culture Ministry stopped Ms. Golshifteh Farahani boarding her flight to Los Angeles on 20 August was that she “had starred in a Hollywood movie without permission from Iranian authorities”.
Ms. Farahani is the first Iran-based actress to appear in a Hollywood movie production
“Iranian movie stars must obtain permission from the Culture Ministry before appearing in foreign movies”, the Agency said, without saying when the Ministry had introduced the regulation.
In fact, the 25 years-old Ms. Farahani is the first Iran-based actress to appear in a Hollywood movie production, acting alongside international actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in the saga of a CIA agent sent to Jordan to track down an Al-Qaeda leader.
Before her, in 2003, Ms. Shohreh Aghdashlou, an Iranian singer and painter living in Los Angeles, had performed in Vadim Perelman’s House of Sand and Fog, alongside Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.
"Golshifteh found out about the ban at the airport, where she was to travel to Hollywood to examine a new offer", friends said.
As a near-mystical young woman whose singing has the power to bring the dead back to life, Farahani won the 2006 Golden Seashell at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. The film never screened in its entirety for the Iranian public, though, because the state disapproved of Ghobadi's recurring motif of singing women.
The moving relationship between Hanyeh and Ali in the movie Santouri is all but Islamic, even if they never touch each other.
Though an acclaimed actress, but her performance in the Iranian movie "Santouri" (the Santour Player) made her more popular, especially because some hard line members of the Films Censorship Commission of the Culture Ministry wanted to have her arrested, or banned from appearing in other movies.
In fact, the relationship between a well educated young girl and a handsome musician known as “Ali Santouri” (Bahram Radan is Ali, the Santour Player), is so intimate, so intense, so dramatic, so suggestive, that, though they never touch each other, it is just moving.
“Santouri is everything but Islamic”, commented a film critic, reminding the screening of the movie, directed by the well-known Dariush Merjou’i, was delayed for several months, “precisely because of the film’s scenario, the relationship between the two main actors, the scenes, the narration, everything is against what the regime stands for. In one word, Santouri is iconoclast””, the critic said.
“I want to leave this country, this violent country, this country where there is no freedom for women, where it gives no chances to people like Ali to perform, to play, no other chance but became drug addict, like Ali”, Hanyeh (Farahani), the exacerbated wife of Ali shouts, after another scene of dispute with her addicted husband, once a very popular singer and santour player among the youngsters.
The film was criticised by conservative newspapers in particular as having portrayed a negative image of Iranian society, its so-called Islamic values, and the problem of drug addiction, which affects some two million people.
Iranian clerical-led theocracy is it's most dangerous enemy
Just before Farahani discovered her ban, conservative Internet site "Tabnak", which belongs to Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, a former Commander of the Revolutionary Guards and Secretary of the Expediency Council, criticized her for having played in "Body of Lies" and asked why the authorities had not taken steps against her.
“As the news of Golshifteh’s travel ban spread, Iranians, using their mobiles telephones, expressed their dismay, shock, disappointment and anger against the authorities, particularly both the fanatic President and his Culture and Islamic Minister, a former hard line journalist”, one source told Iran Press Service.
“After having forced many popular intellectuals, influential journalist, students activists and politician dissidents to leave the country, the regime now applies the same method on artists, actors, movie directors, not realizing that contrary to a journalist, a dissident politician, or a student activist, no matter their influence or importance, needs to be in Iran to be read or heard, an actor, a movie director, if she or he is talented, as many new generation Iranian actors and directors are, is not bound by the same necessity. Golshifteh must have been well known in international movie circles for being hired by Mr. Scott, but by preventing her to go to Hollywood, the regime made the best propaganda she could dream of”, the critic added. GOLSHIFTEH 23808