Economic Report of Iranian Cinema in 2006
Period of Transition
by Mohsen Beigagha

We are believed to be in a period of transition. Nearly all of the films screened in the year 2006 were produced based on production permits issued during president Khatami’s term of office. Iranian filmmakers need a production permit before the shooting of a movie starts and they need a screening permit when production is finished. Ironically, in some cases, a film may get a production permit without a chance to get a screening permit even after the filmmaker re-edits the film to meet the officials’ requirements. As an example, last year Jafar Panahi was told that his film, Offside, would be given screening permit. So, the film was shown at the competition section of Fajr Film Festival. But some political officials did not like it when it was shown at the festival and a screening permit was denied. It has been said that the film was shown at the festival in order to test the viewers’ reaction. With the political changes in 2005, which led to the election of a new government, it is in the year 2007 that we will be finding out about the impact of the new policies on the Iranian cinema.
 Iranian filmmakers’ reluctance to take part in the Fajr Film Festival, the country’s most important cinematic event, during the preceding Iranian year (ended March 20, 2007) was a new development. Perhaps their reluctance was a reflection of similar reluctance on the part of the festival and its selection committee. The five bestselling films of 2006, Cease-Fire, M for Mother, Wedding Ceremony's Dinner, The Trap and Under the Peach Tree had not taken part in the festival in 2005. Starting from the beginning of this decade, the festival limited the number of entries in the competition section to 20 films and new films do not have to take part in the festival on a compulsory basis to secure a screening permit. When Cease-Fire was not selected for the Iranian cinema competition section in the 25th Fajr International Film Festival some said that this may create a problem. But the film’s director, Tahmineh Milani, refused to offer her film for the out-of-competition section. Yet her film was overwhelmingly welcomed on public screens and many came to believe that not taking part in the festival did not do any harm to the movie’s financial success. With 30 percent rise in ticket price, Cease-Fire became the Iranian cinema’s bestselling movie ever. Two years before that Milani had directed the country’s seventh bestseller, The Superficial Woman with a record 350,000 dollars ticket sale.

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