This is the main headquarters of Iran’s cinema house, a place of much controversy for the past few years, and scene of recent protests by renowned Iranian actors and film directors. An establishment declared illegal since 2011.
Authorities state the Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds was shut down because of secret amendments to its charter. The house says now they prepared the new charter after a meeting with the president, but the ministry of culture, in charge of cinema, doesn’t seem to want things to happen. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the final days of his term called for doors of the cinema to be reopened.
“The President has made orders but to this day they have not been met because of the problems created by the ministry,” the chairman of the old Cinema House, Farhad Tohidi Said.
To date there is battle between the Ministry in charge and this small but famous alliance of film-makers made up of Oscar winning director, UN-good-will ambassador, and renowned artists.
Tohidi added, “They tried to put another group in charge of the cinema house, so the presidential decree will not be delayed, but there are vast differences from that house of cinema to this one.” Also a renowned screenwriter, he said “Great differences still remain in place and you can see that from the two demos that took place one in front of the Ministry and the other in front of the cinema house.”
In recent months a similar organization was set up by the ministry just to meet the presidential order in time, but the move was challenged in court. Supporters and members of the new group have recently held a protest in front of the ministry; they say it’s a house for all.
Habib Allah Kasesaz, Chairman of the New Cinema House told a demo in Tehran that, “Every union has a vote; their union heads are all the same to us whether it is the union of directors, artists or the cinema suppliers union.” Kasesaz added, “Everybody that works for Iran's cinema is of importance to us, and our effort in this new house is for all unions to be there.”
Iran’s minister of culture has called on the responsible bodies to reach an agreement with the new charter. Following the demos by both sides and no agreement in sight, I asked the culture minister what he will do and he refused to answer.
“If you have another question on another subject, ask!” Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, the minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said as he entered his office.
Both houses are to meet on July 28th, a board meeting some doubt might even take place.
What is the faith of Iran’s House of Cinema and whether this administration can re-open it in its final days or it’ll just have to wait for the next administration, is what will be known in just two weeks time.