50 Kilos of Tart Cherries was pulled from cinemas across the country after Tabas Friday prayers Imam spoke out against the screening insisting that the film is “destroying revolutionary values”. The criticism of the senior member of the clergy resulted in the withdrawal of the film’s screening permit by the Ministry of Culture.
Fars News Agency reports that Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Mohajerian told worshippers gathered for the Friday Mass Prayers on Friday May 27 that as soon as he realized the film was screening in Tabas, he contacted the guidance ministry branch in the city to express his concerns. He added that the ministry official had immediately championed the cause and stopped the film from screening starting May 26.
50 kilos of Tart Cherries is Haghighi’s sixth film. The comedy has been playing in the cinemas across the country since March and has been a box office hit. Haghighi says the authorities want to pass the film, which has so far become the most popular film of the year in Iran, through another course of censorship after having censored it scores of times before its release.
Tabas Friday Mass Imam slammed Ali Jannati the Minister of Guidance for allowing the film to screen and said: “Our officials should be stopping such films and these films need to be filtered before they hit the big screen.”
He added that the release of the film revealed that the Ministry of Guidance is not paying close attention to its duties. He went on to say through such films “the enemy is trying to diminish the force and grandeur of the Revolution and squander its values.”
The film had also drawn fire from Iran’s Hezbollah forces which led to a reaction from the Minister of Guidance Ali Jannati earlier this month who said: “50 kilos of Tart Cherries was in no way appropriate and if I had known about its content I would never have permitted its production or screening.” Later a spokesman for the ministry, Hossein Nooshabadi claimed in a press conference that the film “did not comply with certain regulations therefore the permit will be amended to allow only for home distribution.”
The filmmaker Mani Haghighi reacted to the recent statements by the ministry in an open letter protesting that the ministry had at several phases of the production imposed its censorship criteria.
Haghighi writes that the film has gone through 14 readings and changes and twice subjected to the review of the Council of Screening Permits which imposed another 17 changes. He adds that only after passing through all these stages it was finally chosen as the top film for screening during Norooz (Iranian New Year).
Haghighi reminds the ministry the film that was screened is the very film that was passed through repeated censorship phases by the ministry in order to obtain the permit for screening and says the ministry is trying to subject the film to another bout of censorship for home distribution.
50 Kilos of Sour Cherries in which features several top Iranian comedians such as Farhad Aish, Vishka Asayesh and Afsaneh Baygan, is the tale of a wedding ceremony that is raided by the police unfolding many comedic adventures. Haghighi`s earlier films include A Dragon Arrives!, Canaan and Men at Work.