August 25, 2006


Iranian Moviegoers Dispense With Art for Love and Laughter (REUTERS, 8/24/06)

This summer’s top film in Iran was “Ceaseire,” a saccharine comedy in which two sexy newlyweds get so competitive with each other that they have to consult a psychologist to avoid divorce. [...]

“Most people like comedies because they do not have much to laugh about these days,” said Navid Etminan, a 25-year-old student in line to watch the film. “Artistic movies can reach out to foreign audiences, but not to ordinary people.”

The success of “Ceasefire” comes as Iranian cinemas enjoy a boom, fueled largely by a greater number of homegrown romantic comedies, which have lured people back to the big screen. Movie theaters took in more than $2 million between March and May this year, up 100 percent from the same period last year, the state cinema authority Farabi reported.

“The stories are far better in this year’s films,” said Akbar Nabavi, a cinema critic and documentary producer, adding that that’s how to attract an audience.

Romantic comedies fill a vacuum: people want to be amused, but Hollywood’s offerings often do not fit the bill in Iran, where censorship has been a constant factor since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and even before. With state-imposed cultural restrictions, many foreign films are heavily edited to meet the country’s strict Islamic codes or may be banned. And although people can watch blockbuster comedies from the United States and elsewhere on pirated DVD’s, many cannot understand them because they are not subtitled or dubbed.

There is also little appetite for films by acclaimed Iranian figures like Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi, among the directors praised abroad for using innuendo and metaphor in ways similar to those used by Eastern European directors who navigated the strictures of communist governments.

“People had got fed up with stupid political games and they showed their lack of interest by turning their backs on movies as symbols of the political trends,” Mr. Nabavi said.

Being fed up with politics is an excellent sign in a thriving liberal democracy, but, as Iranians showed in their last election, not such a good idea until the Reformation is completed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2006 9:50 AM

Top of the morning to ya, gov'nor, and to all the ships at sea!

With apologies for bursting in off-topic, Orrin, have you seen Dark Matter Exists, an article in the Cosmic Variance blog?

Seems to strike a powerful blow for something that had previously been theorized as being real.

Posted by: Eugene S. at August 25, 2006 10:41 AM

Start with a theory and you can mke "evidence" to fit it.

Posted by: oj at August 25, 2006 10:47 AM