The persecution that filmmaker BABAK PAYAMI has faced from the Iranian authorities for his new film may indicate some bad times ahead. Kaleem Aftab reports.

Dateline 2003 the Venice Film Festival and Iranian filmmaker Babak Payami is having a bit of trouble. The Iranian government has confiscated the original negative of his new film, Silence Between Two Thoughts.

Fortunately, the director was already in Italy doing post-production on the film and had a rough digital version of it. So he decided to show a video cassette of this version at the festival. In the Venice sunshine, the director sporting dark glasses and looking like a dodgy arms salesman describes how he feels about it. ‘I am devastated. It is like a mother having to parade her newborn child two minutes after it was born and before it has been washed. I worked so hard on the production quality of this film. It is very unfortunate, but I had to make a choice, of (3) allowing myself and the film to be silenced or (b) doing whatever I can to stop this from happening.’ Babak Payami

Having chosen the second option, Payami, whose previous two films, One Fine Day and Secret in May 2004, the Iranian authorities prevented the cinema the international community has finally

Ballot, won a sack full of international awards, great Moshen Makhmalbaf (Kandahar) shooting started to take notice of the hardening attitude.’ decided to live in exile from Iran. Payami argues his new film. It is all a far cry from the days when The authorities have still not released the l that this was the only way that he could continue the head honcho of film censorship in Iran was a original negative and Scottish audiences will see a being a filmmaker. ‘I had to weigh up what the blind man with relatively liberal views. Payami print of the digital original that has now been , benefits are as a filmmaker and artist of going back reveals: ‘In the past four or five years, there has transposed to 35mm, but the greatest travesty is i and fighting a war with a 25-year-old kid who been a wave of arrests of intellectuals but that the Iranian authorities look like they might be thinks I am the infidel. Or I could continue my life because they operate mainly in the Farsi language about to succeed in bringing the golden age of as a filmmaker and try my best to ignore the ban.’ the clampdown has not had international Iranian cinema to a close.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, it exposure and for a while the film community was I Silence Between Two Thoughts opens at the seems that Payami made the right choice in fairly immune to the new attitude. That has now Filmhouse. Edinburgh on Fri 76 July. See review, ? staying out of Iran to pursue his career because, changed and because of the position of Iranian page 30.


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