Iran Reopens Film Industry Guild

Hassan Rouhani President of Iran 2013 P

Leading film body, the House of Cinema -- shut by hardliners 20 months ago -- has relaunched with the support of the country’s more moderate new president, Hassan Rouhani.

Iran has reopened its influential film industry guild, the House of Cinema, nearly two years after it was shuttered by political hardliners, according to state news agency Irna.

The institution, founded in 1989, has been a driving force in the Iranian film community; it is the only domestic institution that supports independent cinema.

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Long accused of fostering liberal views by the country’s hardliners, House of Cinema was ordered closed at the start of 2012 by the Culture Ministry of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

New president Hassan Rouhani, who is viewed as more moderate, has pledged greater tolerance on social and cultural issues since taking power.

New Deputy Culture Minister Hojatollah Ayoubi was quoted by Irna as saying that the move to reopen the guild shows the new president's support for the film industry.

"When a cultural issue – such as the case of the House of Cinema -- becomes political, that means the situation has not been managed properly," he said, according to Irna.

At the time of the closure, many of the guild’s most prominent members spoke out against the decision, such as Asghar Farhadi, whose A Separation won an Oscar in the best foreign category in 2012.

“If the decision to dissolve the House of Cinema is based on the idea that the majority of the film community and members of the guild are in agreement with your method, then I suggest that you take a vote on this decision among the few thousand members of the House of Cinema,” Farhadi wrote at the time in an open letter published by a reformist newspaper. 

The newly reinstated institution is estimated to have approximately active 5,000 members, from across all areas of film production.