The Iranian Government Is At It Again

It just isn't safe to be a filmmaker (or a writer or a painter or any other kind of expressive artist) in a police state. As regular readers of this blog already know, Jafar Panahi and Mohammed Rasoulof are prisoners of the Iranian government, banned from making films. Now, Bahman Ghobadi, the Iranian Kurdish director of No One Knows About Persian Cats and A Time for Drunken Horses, is under indirect pressure from the country's Ministry of Intelligence. Ghobadi has lived in exile for several years so, short of dispatching an assassination squad, there isn't much the authorities can do to him. But his brother Behrouz was apparently  arrested two weeks ago by these charmers.

 Bahman Ghobadi in happier times

Ghobadi told Screen Daily “He has never been involved in any political or opposition activities. He was interested in film, served as a production manager in some of my movies, and directed a few short films.” Complicating matters, Behrouz suffers from several chronic health problems including respiratory trouble, gout, a weak heart and the after-effects of a serious car accident.

The probable trigger for this official kidnapping is Ghobadi's new film Rhino Season, which was shot in Turkey. Like his previous features, this one is a frontal assault on theh use of arbitrary state power to crush the will of the Kurdish people. He told Screen Daily, “This film is very different to my previous works. It is a poetic film about an artist whose life was interrupted for thirty years when a person he knew used the political situation at the time to throw him and his wife in prison out of  a deeply-seeded obsession and personal vendetta.”

Aesthetic nuance is not one of Prime Minister Ahmedinejad's strong points. Nor is a sense of justice.