Who cares about Mohsen Makhmalbaf? Judging by the anemic coverage of his latest plight, doesn’t seem like the media does.
For those who missed it: Iran decided to boycott Makhmalbaf, its renowned film director, for attending the Jerusalem Film Festival where he presented his most recent film, “The Gardener” (shot in Israel).
Tehran’s reaction to Makhmalbaf’s visit was swift and revealed the uglier face of the Iranian regime – the one on the whole being ignored these days, including/especially by the media, which apparently is too preoccupied with smiling Hassan Rouhani.
Apropo boycott, Iran’s official cinema organization ordered all museums and cinemas to erase any mention of the famous director, and to boycott this “ruthless and soulless” man – forever.
Social media sites and the internet were abuzz with news and commentary on Makhmalbaf’s visit, with many citing the “cleansing” of the director from Iranian cinema.
In the meantime, there were a few rays of light, including this supportive letter (Farsi) written by Iranian artists, journalists and intellectuals and published on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website “Radio Farda.” Its message (rough translation):
We believe that by filming his movie in Israel, Mohsen Makhmalbaf placed the cornerstone for establishing cultural bridges between the two countries, and that the majority of citizens of both countries welcome his peace-loving activities.
The letter adds:
He serves as an example of people who have made their way from military ideology based on dogmatic vision toward the ideas of liberty and dialogue.
The director also had something to say about the tumult around him:
There are a thousand reasons for Iranians and Israelis to be friends as people living on one planet, and not a single reason for them to be enemies.
Indeed, a story worthy of coverage.