Economic Report on the Iranian Cinema in 2010:
Banned Films among Top Ten
by Mohsen Beigagha

Poupak and Mash-Mashallah  The Iranian cinema hit a new record in terms of screening this year. For the first time, the usual figure of 40-50 screened films, which had risen to 64 last year, increased to 65. New policies adopted by Cinema department of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (reducing screening time of some films and banning certain ones from public screens) helped all films produced last year and some outstanding ones to be screened in theaters. New regulations limited showtimes and reduced overall screening period of less popular films.
  Considering the average ticket price of 3 dollars, only one film could cross one-million-dollar mark: Shahriyar Bahrani’s Kingdom of Solomon. Different and expensive special effects and the high production cost (one million dollars) in addition to extensive TV ads could draw a lot of people to screening theaters. The film, which could be called a religious fairy tale, did not cast any superstar. Bahrani, who had already made Virgin Mary, usually focused on Iran-Iraq war in his past films and this was a comeback to religious themes. The screenplay, which the director said to have been based on the Quran, had been revised 39 times to strip it of usual mistakes in religious and historical mistakes. Although more than one million dollars was spent on the film, it was the second non-comedy production after About Elli to sell over one million dollars in recent years.
  Poupak and Mash-Mashallah earned slightly more than 900,000 dollars. It was about Poupak, a modern stylish girl (acted by Mahnaz Afshar), who is back from Canada. Since her aunt is sick, she is watched over by her zealous assistant, Mash-Mashallah. The screenplay depicts Mash-Mashallah as a religious man who is also simpleton, bad-tempered, uneducated, and extremely traditionalist that knows nothing about modernity and technology. On the opposite, there are Poupak and her fiancé who are good-tempered and serene and enjoy human sentiments. The wide gap between Poupak and Mash-Mashallah pitches them against each other and leads to comic moments. Farzad Mo’tamen, a director known for his infatuation with Jean-Luc Godard and his works and can talk endlessly about Godard’s films, had opted for a strange theme in Poupak and Mash-Mashallah. It is quite bizarre that a director who is expert on Godard makes a low-quality comedy and still defends it as a worthy movie. He believes that his film caters to average viewers without insulting their intellect. Box office returns made up for Mo’tamen’s failure with Voices...


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