Art And Culture

Shot in the Arm for Cinema

Shot in the Arm for CinemaShot in the Arm for Cinema

To boost the creation of intellectual works of art, the government plans to take measures in the cinema sector. As an industry, cinema has “a great deal of attraction and potential among the various kinds of art,” head of Iran Cinema Organization, Hojatallah Ayoubi said.

Noting a growth of 70%, he said movies generated 520 billion rials ($15.17 million) from May 21, 2014 to January 21, 2015, adding: “Constructing digital cinema halls at an estimated cost of 90 billion rials ($2.62 million) is one of the steps taken by the cinema organization.” The official said the number of cinema halls is 330 at present and pointed to the need for 3000 cinema halls to meet the demand. Forty cinemas are under construction and he hoped for private sector investments in this area, IRNA reported.

Speaking on the inauguration of new halls till the year-end (March 20), director general of Cinema Shahr (City) Institute Majid Maschi said, “12 new cinema halls will be opened before the new year.” A cineplex comprising four halls in Mehrshahr, Karaj, two cinema halls in the holy city of Qom, and a 6-hall cineplex in Shiraz will start working soon.

Among the old theaters, a cinema in Nishabur, Khorasan Razavi Province, and a 3-hall cinema in Arak are being renovated, he said.

He also pointed to the cultural centers in small cities where there are galleries and libraries but no movie theaters. “Our priority goes to cities with no cinema halls,” noted Maschi. “Up to now, in four provincial capitals we have equipped some halls in cultural centers to screen films, and this will be extended to other towns as well.”

Setting up the cinematic group of ‘Art and Experience’ has been successful in screening experimental, documentary, and short movies for a specific audience and to optimize capacities of cinema. Also, the establishment of the National School of Cinema “has been a great art trainer through holding workshops; it will enhance art educators as well.” The school is headed by Majid Majidi (well-known Iranian film director, producer, and screenwriter), and the board of directors comprises prominent Iranian artists.

Although the Cinema Organization budget is 200 billion rials ($5.83 million), the organization plans to support all cinema activists, Ayoubi said, hoping that the sector would acquire independent status for its activities if the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution approves the national blueprint in the Cultural Development Plan Document.

  Dilapidated State

Despite all the measures taken to construct new movie theaters, renovate old ones, and equip old halls with modern technology, there are still cities with no cinema halls or very few ones with the minimum facilities.

As the first city to acquire a cinema (Cinema Soli) in Iran in 1900, the northwestern city of Tabriz no longer plays a part in Iran’s cinema industry or its sporadic festivals.  “The cold atmosphere of this city’s cinematic art has penetrated the theaters of the metropolis and they fail to entertain the film buffs let alone the common public.”

The director of the culture and Islamic guidance organization of East Azerbaijan Province Ali-Akbar Safipour says 40 billion rials were allocated to the restoration of the province’s movie theaters, but it was later withdrawn due to lack of official documents.

The weariness in the cinema industry is apparent not only in small towns but also bigger cities including Shiraz and Isfahan. “We are planning to take back Cinema Iran, Cinema Palestine, and Andisheh Hall that were closed down and ceased to function on the directive of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs (the foundation gives home loans to disabled veterans and families of martyrs) and make new arrangements for them,” Mostafa Hosseini, a cinematic art official of Isfahan said, stressing that the state of the cinema industry has improved in recent years, but not in small cities.