Economic Report of Iranian Cinema in 2007
The Year of Comedies
by Mohsen Beig-Agha

The Expelled Last year's economic report termed the year 2006 a period of transition. The report stated that one should have waited until the end of the year 2007 in order to see the impact of President Ahmadinejad's cinema policies on the Iranian film industry. In 2007, we were no longer facing films that had been made under former president, Mohammad Khatami. All the films in that year were outcome the new government's cinema policy. The Expelled (Massoud Dehnamaki), as the bestselling film of the year, showed that the new outlook welcomed the idea of not making social criticism. Dehnamaki's film was a comedy with a story that took place during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The story did not have anything to do with the country's current situation. It is about a gang led by a young man named Majid Suzuki. The gang goes to the warfront and its members "evolve" through their confrontation with other combatants. At the end, Majid is martyred. In 2006, critics' forecast was that The Expelled and The Dulcimer Player (Dariush Mehrjui) would be the bestsellers of 2007. The Expelled sold more than Tahmineh Milani's Cease-Fire that had left a record sales figure of 11 billion rials (every 9,300 rials roughly equaled one dollar). This was not the first time a comedy became a bestseller. Cease-Fire, Mom's Guest (Dariush Mehrjui), Lizard (Kamal Tabrizi) and The Adventures of the Red-Capped (Iraj Tahmasb) were other comedies that became bestselling movies in various years. The Expelled was a war comedy with several movie stars acting in it. It was inspired by two other bestselling movies Leili Is with Me (Kamal Tabrizi) and Men from Purgatory (Iraj Ghaderi). The first one was Iranian cinema's first war comedy with an exraorinary performance by its leading actor, Parviz Parastui. The second one was an action movie in which pre-revolution movie stars appeared as characters that evolved at the battlefront.
What prevented The Expelled from selling even more was the fact that illegally burnt CDs of the film were sold in the black market in the third week after the start of its screening. In recent years, these illegal copies have harmed the market for Iranian films. Even adding copy-protection codes failed to dissuade the smugglers. In 2006, the same phenomenon had adversely affected the sale of Cease-Fire. The Mask (Kazem Rastgoftar) was even unluckier as an uncut version of it entered the market on CD. Therefore, criticism focused on immoralities in the film, caused it to be banned after a few weeks. The producer of that film complained that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance did not support the movie and did not stop its banning in order to prevent further losses. Eventually The Mask sold around 210,000 dollars and ranked 15 among the bestselling films of the year. But it could have been among the top 10 thanks to its daring subject. The story of this film is about two young men who blackmail young women...

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Volume:17 No: 67 & 68 (Autumn 2011 & Winter 2012)
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