House of Cinema

A number of Iranian government supporters have called for the House of Cinema to be shut down for its support of documentary makers recently arrested for allegedly collaborating with the BBC.

The House of Cinema has issued two announcements since their arrest on Sunday, calling for “respect for detainee rights and adherence to all legal provisions.”

MP Behrouz Jafari, a member of Parliament’s cultural commission, told the Fars News Agency: “While the House of Cinema is a professional organization, it has become more involved in political activities rather than professional ones and, therefore, supervisory boards should look into rescinding its licence.”

He added: “House of Cinema has a history of getting involved in politics by honouring anti-regime films and supporting filmmakers that have acted against the regime or committed security crimes.”

Hamidreza Taraghi, a member of the conservative party Motalefe Eslami, also described House of Cinema’s support of “those connected to Persian BBC” as “hard evidence of the need to rescind their licence and overhaul of House of Cinema’s administrators.”

Sattar Hedayatkhah, a spokesman for Parliament’s cultural commission, announced that it is investigating the announcement issued by the House of Cinema, saying: “This announcement is not in fact an announcement by the Islamic Republic’s House of Cinema, it is the announcement of the old British colonizer’s house of cinema.”

Iran’s largest professional organization for filmmakers in Iran, the House of Cinema was founded in 1987. It is funded through the allotment of two percent of all cinema revenues in order to improve the situation of all people involved in the business of filmmaking.

A House of Cinema official rejected these statements and expressed dismay that “a simple professional defence of the most obvious rights of the members of this organization has turned into a great political dispute.”

He added that if all legal procedures are properly followed, the House of Cinema board has every hope that the filmmakers will be acquitted of all charges.

Six Iranian documentary makers were arrested last Sunday, accused of collaborating with the BBC. The BBC has declared that these detainees have never been employed or contracted by the broadcaster.