Bahman Ghobadi: No Changes since Rouhani’s Election

01:22 - 30 July 2015
Kurdpa: Despite Hassan Rouhan’s promise, since his election to Iran’s presidency in 2013, to loosen social and cultural restrictions, the Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi says he has seen no changes since Rouhani’s election.

In an interview with Wall Street Journal to assess the Iran nuke deal effect on filmmakers, the Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi says “I had a good feeling when I heard about but at the same time I was nervous from the bottom of my heart.”

“Since Rouhani’s election I have not seen anything change. It’s as if there’s a big tank of water but only a glass to empty it with. You don’t see any change but you feel like something positive will happen – especially in the last few days,” he added.

The Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, whose poetic and gritty movies such as “A Time For Drunken Horses” (2000), “Turtles Can Fly” (2004) and “No One Knows About Persian Cats” (2009) have all won awards at international film festivals, says he had to leave Iran seven years ago after he was accused of being a separatist. “I made a movie called “Half Moon” and in that film I was accused of showing a map of greater Kurdistan which was an absolute lie,” Mr. Ghobadi says.

“I was going through a tough time with my personal and work life so I felt pressured to leave.” Mr. Ghobadi, 46, who is now based in Iraq but also travels to the U.S. and the U.K. frequently for work, had planned on going back to Iran to visit his aging mother before the nuclear deal was struck. He decided not to after being told by Iranian friends that he was on a list of those for whom it was not safe to go back.

In the interview with several Iranian film-makers, Wall Street Journal asks whether the situation of “dissident Iranian film-makers will improve following the recent thawing of relations between Iran and Western countries in the wake of their ongoing nuclear agreement.”

Hojatollah Ayoubi, Iran’s deputy in charge of Cinematic Affairs in the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, who was also interview by Wall Street Journal, believes that the West’s decision to relax sanctions on Iran will help to increase the visibility of Iranian movies abroad.

However, he can’t promise the deal will make the situation of imprisoned film-makers such as Jafar Panahi any better inside Iran. “Jafar Panahi is a unique case because he is the only Iranian film director whose problem is a legal one which has nothing to do with the Minister of Culture or the government,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Regarding Mr. Ghobadi, the Ministry’s official said, “The door is open for all Iranian artists and I know for a fact that Bahman Ghobadi will have no problems if he wants to return to Iran and make films here.”

Kurdpa has learned that Mr. Ghobadi’s latest documentary work “Life on the Border” will be promoted by Angelina Jolie, Hollywood actor and Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The films describes the tale of eight refugee children from the devastated Kurdish towns of Kobani and Shingal in the hands of Islamic State terrorists to the crowded camps.

Bahman Ghobadi is the first Kurdish director and film-maker from Iran to get so much international recognition. He was born on February 1, 1969 in Baneh, Kurdistan province.

He is best known for A Time for Drunken Horses (2000), Turtles Can Fly (2004), Half Moon (2006), No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009) and Rhino Season (2012).

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Hazhir B.


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