Over the years, Iran’s cultural sphere has faced significant challenges due to the policies and actions of its regime. The Iranian government, under various administrations, has exerted stringent control over the nation’s artistic and cultural landscape, leading to restrictions, censorship, and suppression of creative expression.
Under the current regime, there has been an evident tightening of control over Iran’s cultural and artistic space. The Ministry of Guidance has employed hundreds of young Hezbollah forces within the ministry, raising concerns among observers about further suppression of creative freedoms. The government’s move to enlist these personnel poses a threat to filmmakers, poets, writers, and other artists who already face political, social, and economic challenges.
Observers worry that this step may further compound the challenges faced by filmmakers, poets, and writers in Iran, who already grapple with various political, social, and economic issues.
In addition, the Iranian short film festival has been banned by the Minister of Education, citing non-compliance with hijab regulations. Furthermore, certain actors affiliated with the Iranian Short Film Academy (ISFA) have been banned by the Minister of Guidance.
The recent violent confrontation stems from the publication of a poster featuring an actress’s image not complying with the regime’s dress code from a movie called “The Death of Yazdgerd III” in the 13th edition of the short film festival.
Many intellectuals and cultural figures are expressing concern that such confrontations, confiscations, and closures are not new, suggesting that the regime has launched a comprehensive offensive against the country’s cultural and artistic foundations after the 2009 protests.
The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution assigned the Broadcasting Organization the task of monitoring universal audio and video content and home broadcast networks. This decision grants the regime’s Radio and Television exclusive authority over monitoring, licensing, production, and broadcasting of all home network programs, including documentaries, animations, movies, and TV series.
The close ties between the country’s cultural officials and media linked to the Revolutionary Guards have fueled apprehensions about the impact on Iran’s culture and art.
Regime officials predominantly view cinema and television series through an ideological lens, either portraying events in Iran and the world from their perspective or presenting entertaining comedy films that avoid critical thinking. They also showcase bitter movies depicting a bleak reality, eroding trust in individuals or groups, perpetuating the status quo, and discouraging efforts for change and transformation.
The decision to entrust monitoring of the home theater network to the regime’s Radio and Television has been met with widespread negative reactions from cinematographers’ and artists’ trade unions. The Cinema Directors Association stated that this move, due to the “cultural diversity of Iranian society and television’s aversion to the middle class,” may lead to a scarcity of dramas on the home theater network, potentially pushing audiences to seek content from satellite channels.
The shift of supervision to the regime’s Radio and Television raises serious concerns about the already restricted space for producing movies and series on the home show network. This move could potentially lead to heightened regulations and censorship imposed by the radio and television authorities, further limiting creative freedom and expression.
The regime’s policies have fostered a hostile climate for artistic expression and freedom of speech. Artists, writers, and filmmakers continuously face pressure to conform to state-sanctioned narratives, resulting in self-censorship to avoid repercussions. This stifling environment hinders creativity and innovation, depriving Iranian society of the rich and diverse cultural contributions it has the potential to offer.