Mehrjuii's new film pirated in Iran


Darius Kadivar
by Darius Kadivar

The producer of the controversial film "The Santur Player" faced the nightmare of piracy when he saw bootleg CDs of the film on sale in Tehran's black market last week. "I ask Mehrjuii's fans not to purchase the CDs, because the film's (copyright) owners are not pleased with such actions," Faramarz Farazmand said in a letter published by ISNA.

He has also asked people to help the police apprehend the illegal distributors. The bootleg CDs are of high-quality and contain scenes which were cut for its screening at the 25th Fajr International Film Festival, which was held in Tehran in February 2007. Directed by Dariush Mehrjuii, "The Santur Player" was scheduled to premiere on July 25, 2007, but the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance replaced it on the premiere schedule with Iraj Qaderi's "The Trial", without giving any explanation for the decision. Starring Bahram Radan and Golshifteh Farahani, "The Santur Player" is about a santur virtuoso and singer named Ali who becomes a drug addict. The screening of the film had also been postponed several times during the 2007 Fajr Film Festival. However, it was finally showcased with its soundtrack censored, allegedly to show respect for the mourning season of Muharram. Afterwards, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance refused to give the film a screening license because Mohsen Chavoshi sang on the soundtrack. The ministry said that the songs had not been approved by the relevant departments for musical affairs. Thus, the film's composer, Ardavan Kamkar, had to record the songs using Radan's own voice. Radan received the Best Actor Crystal Simorgh for his performance in the film and Kamkar was nominated in the best composer category at the Fajr festival. According to a poll carried out by the 2007 Fajr festival organizers, the film had satisfied 95 percent of the audience. The flick was expected to be a huge box office hit. "I just say that I'm sorry," Farazmand noted. "The envious (people's) ambitions were realized and they were pleased that 'The Santur Player' will never be among the box office hits of Iranian cinema history," he added. "There were some people behind the piracy, who wanted to spoil 'The Santur Player'. Why didn't cultural officials answer our requests sent through letters to them? Because we are outsiders who must be expelled from the field," Farazmand stated. He had previously sent several letters to cultural officials, asking for an explanation about the decisions made about the film. Meanwhile, the director of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance's Supervision and Evaluation Office, which is responsible for issuing screening licenses, said that the film's producer is responsible for the piracy. "We can not definitely say how the film was bootlegged, but the producer is personally responsible for the problem," Mahmud Arbabi told ISNA on Friday. Arbabi noted that the film received no license from his office for its screenings at South Korean and Japanese festivals or its premiere in the United States. According to Arbabi, the culture ministry blocked a foreign website providing illegal downloads of the film. Mehrjuii recently asked cultural officials to immediately issue a screening license for his film to protect the rights of the work, which are increasingly being violated. However, the officials rejected Mehrjuii's request.

"It is logical to screen the film under these circumstances," Arbabi noted, adding, "We can not be passive."



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