Iran - Repot

The unstoppable artistic rebellion! (Iran, 2nd part)

By Helios Molina- translation Rodrigo Westphalen & Jose Pietri - 
The Iran which we encountered has nothing to do with the great Satan that the new Trump administration often portrays. We saw cultured human beings, hostile to the religious dictatorship, favourable to a world of peace and intensely attracted to art and different forms of creation.

Ph. HM- Young women at a bar in downtown Tehran


2nd part - Great Iran report


Interior-exterior. The voices of creation.

Iran lives in the middle of the religious authoritarian regime’s paradoxes. A big part of the well-educated population that is informed about the world’s events happens to exercise free will in the privacy of their homes. Alcoholic beverages are not rare, neither are the western world’s music. But on the other hand, during religious celebrations, music and other festivities are forbidden for the month. An obligatory mourning.


It is important to remember that 70% of the population is less than thirty years old. These people have a good level education, are young and urban. This results in a country in constant movement, that makes no secret of it. On the musical scene, the underground makes its rap roar, booms its hip hops or even Balkan music for the pleasure of the fans, described as “incontrollable”. The pubs, garages and apartment parties tell the public that the great Persia is proud of, and belongs to, the great countries of creation.


Well, not everything is that simple!


Before getting to the public theatres, a play has to pass through censure that eliminates certain genres or certain critiques to the system. But the official groups say they always manage to wisely pass certain things in the texts, leaving no doubt about the freedom of thought. The same happens with theatre plays, some actors told us. “Censure comes before the first presentation, so once we get the consent from the official, we do whatever we want to!” said one of the actors, who we prefer not to name. On the other hand, women can only do presentations for other women and can’t go onstage in front of men. This could “activate their libido and create secret desires that it is better to repress”. Another detail, one member of the group tells us: it is forbidden to get up and dance. The audience has to stay seated in front of the stage and only move their arms. Despite all of that, their souls still fantasise and delight with the art. They don’t deprive themselves.


In the art world, censorship happens to exercise its coercion through other means as well, like the prohibition of certain websites. But besides the prohibition of Facebook, it is estimated that eleven million Iranians have registered profiles.


At a famous gallery in Tehran


At a famous gallery in Tehran, 26 women photographers exhibit their pictures. One of the pictures has caught our attention. Behind the glass, which was broken by the artist, there is a modest, sensual, black and white female nude photograph which conjectures the will to break taboos. The symbol is strong.


The Iranian cinema is also showing up with several dedicated directors, challenging movies and beautiful vitality, with figures like Kiarostami (a legend here) or "A Separation” (2011) written and directed by Asghar Farhadi.


Here freedom has a very high cost because sometimes censorship may attack without warning. The young filmmaker Kenyan Karimi, 33 years old, was condemned to one year in prison and 223 whippings in November 2016 for daring to show in his movie the history of Tehran’s graffiti. As it was in 2009, it showed walls with writings that were hostile to the regime. The filmmaker of “Taxi Tehran”, Jafar Panahi, in 2015, was almost punished for his documentary. Despite a condemnation in 2010, he does it again and let his characters severely criticize the system. After Berlin’s Golden Bear in 2015, Jafar's name achieved international recognition. As the regime does not like critiques from the exterior, Jafar might be only in probation.



Sold-out movie theatres


In Tehran, as in Isfahan, the succession is ensured by young filmmakers full of delicacy and splendour. “We cannot show certain scenes. If we talk about sex, it’s in a poetic way, with no nudity. Poetry is in our blood. Here, we manage to realise our desires with extremely low budgets.” says Mamoodabadi, a young remarkable 38-year-old Isfahan filmmaker.

The younger public rediscovers the pleasure of the new Iranian cinema, and with the repercussion of the international prizes received by those filmmakers, there has been two years of sold-out showings in the movie theatres. After Farad’s consecration in Berlin, fearing the turmoil of a mass public in delight, his return was to be kept a secret. But the date ended up showing up in non-censored websites and he was then welcomed as a winner.


Here, culture is not an empty word. The art galleries, during the vernissages, are meeting venues where an elegant and never-ending crowd congregates. Art is the new form of resistance. And it’s a vernissage without a single drop of alcoholic drink, of course!


Acts and words that state a lot about women’s place in this cultural context. A great liberty of tone, a feminist revindication and sometimes in the big city it’s a beneficial impertinence of the unsubmissive youth. All of this despite the religious regime, that condemns women to be a simple instrument of procreation. And, even so, women occupy a very important place in the work environment where she emancipates herself and demands respect. “Do not compare the Iranian women to any other from neighbouring countries. They are nothing alike!” says one of the artists.


Marriage? Young people in there don’t care for that!


Let us say that Iran is a country of paradoxes. An Iranian newspaper article in English caught my attention. A problem is shaking up things for the regime. The new generation has few to no children. 1,2 children per family, much less than in France (2,01 per woman). And this generation doesn’t care for the ideal family. People in their 30’s dream about a certain freedom: no marriage, no children, only maybe after their forties. They reach out for other horizons, to free themselves from religious judgment. Some of them say life is too expensive there. But most answer with a smile saying: “freedom is good!”. The regime answers with punishing measures against birth control methods, like making divorce harder to get. A useless attempt! “That’s not their business” this generation seems to say. The people seems ready to choose their way of life, untouched by the State’s propaganda.


By HeliosMolina - Translation Rodrigo Wesphalen & Jose Pietri -Report @ www.micmag.net




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