Iran has taken its cultural censorship efforts to new levels by pressuring a filmmaker to cancel the screening of one of his films in Canada.
The film, Delighted, by Abdolreza Kahani, was due to be screened last month at an independent theatre in Toronto.
But Kahani decided to cancel the screening after receiving a warning from Iran’s Culture Ministry.
A source close to Kahani’s production team who did not want to be named told RFE/RL that the ministry “advised” the filmmaker that if he would go ahead with the screening his other film, We Love You Mrs. Yaya, which was filmed in Thailand, would not be allowed to be shown inside Iran.
“When we announced that the film would be screened [in Canada] and tickets were sold, we received a message requesting the screening be cancelled; the message said that, if not, Kahani’s [other] film – [which was] was made in Thailand and was costly — will not receive a screening permit,” the source said.
The source added that authorities had also contacted producers, including those involved in the production of We, Love You Mrs. Yaya, to convince him to cancel the November 24 screening in Toronto.
Kahani has said in an interview with Radio Canada that Delighted is the story of three women who want to have a good time in Iran and are trying to meet wealthy men in order to achieve that goal.
A Culture Ministry official was quoted in 2016 as saying that Delighted was “immoral.”
Last year, a member of a committee that issues screening permits said that Delighted was problematic “from the beginning till the end.” He didn’t provide details but said the film was “not amendable.”
Film critic Khosro Dehghan says the Culture Ministry’s move to block the showing of Delighted in Canada was unprecedented.
“The Culture Ministry is not likely to confirm this issue as it would prove that the ministry won’t limit itself to the country’s borders — any film that is banned here will not be allowed to be screened anywhere else in the world,” Dehghan said in an interview with the daily Jamee Farda.
“The ministry has now extended its reach beyond Iran’s borders,” Dehghan added.
Banned At Home, Lauded Abroad
Authorities routinely ban award-winning Iranian movies from cinemas inside the country.
But until now there hadn’t been any known efforts to prevent the screening of controversial movies outside the country.
Dissident film director Jafar Panahi — who received a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban on directing movies in 2010 — screened his latest film Taxi, made clandestinely, at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival where it received the Golden Bear Prize.
Panahi told Jamee Farda that Iran should not interfere in the screening of films in other countries.
“Domestic rules should not be enforced when it comes to screening movies in other countries,” he said.

Please read the full article on RadioFreeEurope