Sunday, July 28, 2013

Film-maker 'betrayed Iran' with Israel visit

 Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Photo: Getty images)

Film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf  (as reported in Ynet-News), is already paying the price for his visit to Israel: the Iranian regime has frozen Makhmalbaf out of the Iranian cine-scene, although the setting for his film 'The Gardener', the Baha'i gardens in Haifa, would likely have been enough to make him persona non grata. In other news of positive developments between Iranians and Jews, I'm mentioning two books of Jewish interest by non-Jewish Iranians

Mohsen Makhmalbaf is the most senior Iranian to officially visit Israel. During his visit, he held a meeting with journalists and film critics in Jerusalem and told them he was the first Iranian director to allow a commercial screening of his film in Israel. he added that he was breaking a taboo and hoped others would follow in his footsteps.

"We have to get to know each other through art, literature and cinema, so we can become friends and end the hostility. That's the reason I filmed my latest movie, 'The Gardener,' in Israel. I hope Israeli filmmakers will be able to shoot films in Iran," he said.

Feel the love: last year's 'Israel 'hearts' Iran' Facebook campaign

In a candid interview to Yedioth Ahronoth on the eve of his arrival in Israel, the veteran director expressed his hope for peace and a change in his homeland, and praised Israel and the Israelis.

"In a previous secret visit here, I looked at the faces of young Israelis and saw the faces of my children and their friends," he said. "I thought I was coming to a military country but discovered a democracy instead."

The Iranian authorities, however, were quick to respond to the positive public and media buzz created by the Israel visit. The official Iranian cinema association declared a full boycott on all of the films made by Makhmalbaf, who left the Islamic Republic in 2005 after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

The cinema organization ordered all museums and cinema to erase every single memory of the famous director and boycott him forever. Senior Iranian officials referred to Makhmalbaf as a "rootless and soulless man" following his visit to Israel. The official Iranian news agency called him a "traitor."

But while some Iranian academics and artists condemned Makhmalbaf over his visit to Israel, a group of journalists and artists published an open letter praising him for his courage.

Read article in full 

A new book in Farsi on the Holocaust is a hit among non-Jewish Iranians (The Tablet)

A new book in French by Ardavan Amir-Aslani 'Juifs et Perses' (Scroll down to last story)

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