Thursday, October 20, 2005

Iran bans foreign films deemed 'feminist' or pro-US

Iran Focus:

TEHRAN, Oct 20 (AFP) - Iran's Islamic regime has slapped a ban on foreign films deemed to be "feminist", "secular" or pro-American, with hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also pushing his vision of a Koranic society.

A ruling by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, a watchdog headed by Ahmadinejad, bans "the distribution and screening of foreign films which promote secular, feminist, liberal or nihilist ideas and degrade oriental culture."

Also forbidden are movies that feature "violence, narcotics consumption and propaganda for the world oppression", a term reserved for arch-enemy the United States, the Shargh newspaper said Thursday.

The report said the directive has been widely circulated, especially within the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and state television and radio.

"The Iranian people have a mission to create, on this sacred Iranian ground, an ideal society founded on the Koran," Ahmadinejad was also quoted as telling a local gathering titled "Servants of the Koran".

He promised his government, less than three months into its four-year mandate, would "advance with strength to favour the spread of a Koranic culture".

Under Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami -- a mild-mannered cleric and a lover of all things cultural -- Iran had partially opened its doors to certain Western films.

More and more Western films have been shown, albeit with certain scenes censored. Several Hollywood films are currently being shown in Iranian cinemas, including "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", "The Others" and "The Aviator".

It is unclear if the new regulations will result in them being pulled.

Conservative-controlled state television has also broadcast more Western movies -- partly because millions of Iranians have been switching to the use of banned satellite television equipment.

A string of police crackdowns have failed to stop the spread of satellite television, and the regime has resorted to the use of jamming equipment that especially targets broadcasts by opposition-run Persian-language stations based in the United States.

An additional headache for the regime is a bustling black market in pirated video CDs and DVDs, which can be rented for around one dollar a week or purchased for around six dollars.

Earlier this month the internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami said the declining number of cinemas in his homeland since the 1979 Islamic revolution was a "real problem."

"People are interested in watching more movies but there is no opportunity," said Kiarostami, whose recent films have also been banned by Iranian authorities.

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