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Mohammad Barakat

Lebanon: Iranian film banned by Hizballah

The film has been banned from the Cultural Resistance International Film Festival in Beirut [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2014

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A film which documents the growth of Iran's Green Movement was banned from an international film festival in Beirut.

It is not the first time and it will not be the last. Hizballah does not behave like other political parties in Lebanon. It behaves as if it were the sole highest authority deciding what can and cannot be done.

It is not the first time and it will not be the last. The censorship department at the General Security Directorate [Ar], headed by Major General Abbas Ibrahim [Ar], has banned the Iranian film The Silent Majority Speaks. It has not been banned from cinemas as it is not out on general release, but it was banned from being shown at the Cultural Resistance International Film Festival, held in Lebanon between 12 and 17 November.

     In Lebanon, where Hizballah acts as if the country were an Iranian protectorate, the rules applying to Iranians apply to us.

The film was scheduled to be screened in front of a small number of movie enthusiasts, however, in Lebanon - where Hizballah acts as if the country were an Iranian protectorate, the rules applying to Iranians in their country apply to us.

It is as if we are subjects of the Iranian Empire, with the censor [Ar] banning anything Hizballah wants banned.

The film documents events during the Green Movement in Iran after the 2009 presidential elections, in which hundreds of thousands of people hit Tehran's streets and demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. Director Bani Khoshnoudi goes on to link the protests with political, security and revolutionary events in Iran over the past century.

Attacking friends, attacking foes

This has happened before. In 2011, the General Security Directorate banned the Iranian film The Green Days, which was also about the Green Movement, arguing it "attacks a foreign country and paints it in a bad light". As if the Lebanese media is not attacking different countries every day.

It is no secret that Lebanese political parties are funded and armed by foreign countries. However, Hizballah, which appoints the head of the General Security Directorate, is busy attacking another country - Syria.

Hizballah asked Abbas Ibrahim to ban a film that was going to be watched by a handful of Lebanese enthusiasts and some foreign guests at the festival because it "attacks a foreign country". Is this reasonable behaviour?

Lebanon has been going through crisis after crisis. For example, faecal matter has been found in food served in the most expensive restaurants, people have been forced to drink contaminated water due to shortages, and many areas flooded after half an hour of rainfall due to poor drainage systems.

At the same time, the authorities cannot find anything better to do than ban a film directed by an Iranian woman, whose views differ from those of the current Iranian administration.

Ironically, the film director's identity was concealed in 2010 when the movie was first released. It was only revealed this year after Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran. In an interview earlier this year, Bani Khoshnoudi said she saw Rouhani's election as an "opportunity" and a sign things had changed.

She decided to reveal her identity because "if the director of a film like this is not identified then the film can easily be forgotten".

It is not without irony that Khoshnoudi continues to live and work freely in Iran - but is banned from Beirut, along with her film.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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