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Mohsen Makhmalbaf film spirited out after 26 years

Posted December 7th, 2016, 11:49 AM IST

Mohsen Makhmalbaf film spirited out after 26 years

Kochi: When Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf sent his banned film The Nights of Zayandeh-rood to the Venice Film Festival, he thought he missed the deadline. However, hours after he sent it, he received an email from Alberto Barbera, the director of Venice Film Festival. Alberto had been deeply moved by the beautiful film and definitely wanted it in Venice. So Mohsen’s film, which had not seen light for 26 years, was somehow stolen from the censorship archives in Iran and screened at the festival this September. Now, months later, it will have another screening – at the International Film Festival of Kerala.

It will be a special screening at the Sree Padmanabha Theatre on December 12, 9.15 am. The film — Mohsen’s ninth — is about an anthropologist and his daughter, and the time is set before, during and after the revolution. Several minutes of the film was chopped off by the censorship committee before its premiere at the Fajr Film Festival in Iran in 1990 . But people came in plenty, waiting all night long for the morning screening. The film became well known and Mohsen came under constant attack of the media, till the Iranian supreme leader saw it one day and accused it ‘of being against the revolutionary objectives and a threat to national security’, Mohsen writes on his website.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Mohsen Makhmalbaf

He was arrested and the film banned, put away in the archives forever. In 2016, the negative was stolen from the archives and Mohsen writes he can’t give details on how this was done. But in London, he worked on the negative that he had recovered and managed to send it to Alberto. Mohsen who has made over 20 feature films and won many awards, had directed The Afghan Alphabet, a documentary which succeeded in changing the law in Iran to allow Afghan children refugees to go to school.

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