107 Iranian Film Personalities Urge Rouhani to Lift State Ban on Pre-Revolution Actor
More than 100 Iranian artists and movie industry personalities have urged President Hassan Rouhani to lift the state ban on a well-known actor who has been living in exile for nearly four decades.
“We, a group of artists, filmmakers, writers and people in charge of cultural affairs, call upon you as the president, who is responsible for defending citizens’ rights and implementing the Constitution, to take decisive action to end the ban on artists leaving or entering the country and lift restrictions on their cultural work so that they can come and go without any problem and enjoy the natural right to work and be active in their homeland,” said the letter published by Iranian media outlets on May 30, 2018.
“Namely, we demand an end to the illegal restrictions on the esteemed actor Mr. Behrouz Vossoughi,” wrote the 107 signatories.
The prominent Iranian celebrities who signed the letter include Jafar Panahi, actor Parviz Parastui, actress Leila Hatami, actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, director Mohammad Rasoulof, director Kianoush Ayari and director Tahmineh Milani.
Many Iranian directors, actresses and actors left Iran after the 1979 revolution after being accused of collaborating with the former regime and being banned from continuing their work.
Their pre-revolutionary films were blacklisted and their distribution treated as a crime.
The letter in support of Vossoughi was published the day after several Iranian celebrities turned down an invitation from President Rouhani to attend a Ramadan dinner reception, citing disappointment with social and economic issues in the country.
The letter also coincided with the recent death of veteran actor Nasser Malek-Motiei, who until very recently had been prohibited from working in Iran’s entertainment industry.
In a phone message aired by a loudspeaker to thousands of mourners at Malek-Motiei’s funeral in Tehran on May 27, Vossoughi said the late actor “was loved for 30 years when he performed on the movie screen and remained in the people’s hearts for 40 years off-screen.”
The Directors Guild of Iran also issued a statement on May 30 demanding that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance end its prohibition of the work of veteran Iranian film stars.
“As representatives of the great and proud family of Iranian cinema, we call upon you to end the ban on the professional activities of movie personalities who worked in this artistic field before the revolution,” said the letter addressing Minister Abbas Salehi.
“The speedy removal of the restrictions will claim the 40-year-old pain felt by these veteran artists and Your Excellency’s name will be remembered for this good deed,” said the statement.
In addition to pre-revolutionary veterans of Iran’s film industry, several famous post-revolution film personalities have taken refuge abroad since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including actresses Golshifteh Farahani and Shabnam Tolouei as well as director Bagman Ghobadi.