Iran may need fatwa to lift ban on “Journey to Hidalou”

February 1, 2010

TEHRAN -- An official from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has said that they may need a fatwa to lift the ban on the premiere of “Journey to Hidalou”, a film which was at one time banned because of a sex scandal involving its actress.

“‘Journey to Hidalou’ directed by Mr. Mojtaba Raei is a very good film, but the problem is its actress. Maybe we need a fatwa to grant a screening license for the film,” Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs Javad Shamaqdari said on the website of the Islamic Artists Club on Saturday.
Raei rejected the Culture Ministry’s proposal that the scenes featuring the actress be reshot using another actress, he stated.
However, Shamaqdari expressed hope that Raei would accept the proposal.
“Journey to Hidalou” was banned in 2006 after copies of libertine video footage of Zahra Amir-Ebrahimi were leaked onto the Internet and also released on CDs in Iran.
The film is about an aging university professor who experiences a spiritual journey in three stages as he confronts problems with his health and marriage.
Culture Ministry officials recently revised their decision on 13 filmmakers’ requests for screening licenses for their films, which had been banned over the past five years.
Eleven films of the 13 were granted screening licenses after their producers and director agreed to cut scenes but licenses for “Journey to Hidalou” and “Fire Keeper”, a comedy on vasectomy in Iran by director Mohsen Amiryusefi, were rejected again.
A screenplay must be approved by the Culture Ministry to obtain a production license in Iran. In addition, the film’s producer must apply for a screening license from the ministry for a domestic or foreign premiere.
No film can be produced or premiere in Iran if the Culture Ministry refuses to grant the necessary licenses.