By Niloufar Rostami
January 24, 2020
Iranian cinema star Taraneh Alidoosti has been summoned to the Culture and Media Prosecutor’s Office on charges of “propaganda against the regime” after she boycotted the annual Fajr Festival, domestic news outlets have reported.
Alidoosti was one of several artists and professionals from Iran’s film industry to boycott Iran’s 2020 Fajr Art Festivals following revelations that the Revolutionary Guards had shot down Ukrainian passenger airplane flight 752, which killed all 176 passengers on board. Alidoosti also publicly supported the boycott of the festival, labeling the Fajr Film Festival “non-cinematographic and governmental propaganda” on Instagram.
“For six years, I didn’t even go to the Fajr Festival as a guest. This year is the seventh year. I am glad that today this non-cinematographic and governmental propaganda has become clear to many of my colleagues. I am proud to be with them, and I will leave the Fajr Festival and its honor to those who organize it.”
Following the air disaster on January 8, and prior to the Guards’ Corps admission a few days later that it was responsible, Alidoosti lashed out at Iranian authorities’ silence: “I fought this dream for a long time and did not want to admit it; we are not citizens. We never were. We are captives, millions of captives.”
Aldoosti has starred in a number of Asghar Farhadi’s films, including About Eli, The Salesman, Chaharshanbeh Souri and Beautiful City, and has appeared alongside the famous director at many international film festivals.
The actor has a long record of publicly speaking out about social issues in the Islamic Republic, including the ban on female fans attending stadiums and protests outside Azadi Stadium and other sports venues, as well as opposing child marriage, about which she regularly posts on Instagram and Twitter.
She also boycotted the Oscars in 2017 after US President Donald Trump introduced a ban on immigrants from seven countries, including Iran, entering the United States. Alidoosti denounced the decision as racist and announced her decision not to attend the Oscars in Los Angeles on Twitter.
Dozens of artists, filmmakers and actors were arrested after they took part in demonstrations on Sunday, January 12 in Tehran’s Azadi Square and in other cities, and following their announcement that they were boycotting the Fajr Film Festival.
According to IranWire, Ali Farmani, a young editor and filmmaker from Shiraz, is still in detention. However, Reza Asadi, an assistant on the forthcoming movie Shameless Crime by Shahram Makri, who was detained at Azadi Square on January 12, was released on bail on January 20.
No information is available on Farmani’s whereabouts or the charges brought against the film professional.
It was also announced on January 13 that Rakhshan Bani Etemad, a prominent Iranian film director, along with her husband, Jahangir Kowsari, a film producer, and Azadeh Mousavi, a documentary filmmaker, were detained for several hours, but later released.
Following film industry professionals’ decision to withdraw from the Fajr Festival, security forces started a campaign of intimidation and threats against them. In an interview with IranWire, one filmmaker confirmed that several artists had been threatened after they posted critical comments on social media.