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Film director under arrest in Iran

August 29, 2001

by Guy Dinmore in Tehran

Published: August 29 2001

A leading Iranian film director known for her feminist and left-wing views has been arrested in Tehran, apparently the target of a widening campaign by hardline clerics in the judiciary against social and cultural change deemed as a threat to the Islamic system.

Acquaintances said on Wednesday that 41-year-old Tahmineh Milani was taken to prison on Monday after answering a summons to appear before Tehran’s Revolutionary Court.

Mrs Milani had been due to travel to Los Angeles to receive an award for The Hidden Half, her latest film, which casts a sympathetic light on left-wing activists who played a major role in the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah but were later jailed or executed by Iran’s new Islamic regime.

Mrs Milani, who writes and directs, is believed to be charged with insulting the values of the Islamic revolution. She is the most prominent figure within Iran’s cultural world to have been arrested in a wider crackdown on liberal intellectuals, mostly journalists and academics. Her best known film, Two Women, has won several international awards. In an interview with a pro-reform newspaper the day before she was arrested, Mrs Milani said she made the Hidden Half with a sense of great anxiety. “But nonetheless I am glad I will find out how much criticism this country can take,” she added. She said she was opposed not just by “reactionary religious groups” but also by “pseudo-intellectuals” who did and said nothing. The Hidden Half finished its scheduled four-week showing in Tehran cinemas on Wednesday. It is not clear why the courts did not stop the film. Last month saw the resignation of Seifallah Dad, a deputy minister for culture responsible for the movie industry, apparently under pressure from hardliners angered by the success of a new wave of Iranian films.

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