Volume. 12227

Iranian House of Cinema disbanded
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TEHRAN -- The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance disbanded the Iranian House of Cinema (IHC) on Tuesday after years of dispute.

The decision to disband the IHC was announced through a letter sent to the organization, which is the Iranian cineastes’ guild, the Persian service of ISNA reported. 

The chairman of IHC board of directors, Farhad Tohidi, confirmed the report.

Tohidi said that he has received a letter from the Culture Ministry announcing  the breakup of the organization.

The ministry has accused the IHC officials of establishing the guild without legal formalities and “other illegal acts” in the letter.

According to the letter, the IHC has to stop all its activities before the deadline of January 5.

The IHC managing director had previously said that “even the president” was not empowered to disband the IHC.

“The IHC has been registered as a non-governmental institute. Thus, it can be disbanded only by a court ruling or a decision of its general assembly,” Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur told Nasimonline.ir.

All art and cultural institutions must obtain a license for their activities before establishment. Afterwards, the institutions’ charter must be approved by the Iran Public Culture Council (IPCC).

Last week, the IPCC ruled that the IHC was illegal after the Culture Ministry informed the council about some unannounced amendments to the IHC charter.

The Culture Ministry had also filed a lawsuit against the IHC, accusing it of making some amendments to its charter without informing the IPCC.

Analysts believe that the issue of the unannounced modifications to the IHC charter was an excuse to close the house.

The dispute between the Culture Ministry and the IHC began in 2009 when they invited a Hollywood delegation led by Sid Ganis, then president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to visit Iran. The Culture Ministry’s officials frequently have criticized Hollywood as an instrument of U.S. government.

Iranian ministers of foreign affairs, culture, and intelligence were summoned to the Majlis to explain about the Hollywood delegation’s visit to Iran.

The IHC showed no concern over the objections and sent a delegation to visit the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles a few months later.

Many art and cultural centers began to condemn the people who disputed the results of the presidential election in June 2009. However, the IHC refused to make any comment about the event. The IHC’s silence did not please the Culture Ministry.

In addition, the IHC was criticized last September for issuing a statement over the arrest of six Iranian documentary filmmakers, who have been accused of “collaboration with the BBC Persian service” in Iran.

A statement, which was published early last week by the IHC, worked as a catalyst for its disbanding.

The IHC announced that it would not collaborate with the Culture Ministry in organizing the Fajr International Film Festival if the legal issues raised by the ministry were not settled.  

The officials viewed the statement as a call to boycott the festival, which is Iran’s most important cinematic event.

Members of the High Council for Cinema proposed last week that the Culture Ministry drop its lawsuit against the IHC.

The chairman of the IHC board of directors said that even if the accusations in the lawsuit were proven to be true, the IHC still could not be disbanded in this manner.


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