Art And Culture

With Shrinking Budget, DEFC Doing More With Less

With Shrinking Budget, DEFC Doing More  With LessWith Shrinking Budget, DEFC Doing More  With Less

The Documentary and Experimental Film Center (DEFC) supported by the Iran Cinema Organization, is out of the woods now after overcoming the financial crisis it faced about a year ago.

“The center has achieved financial stability with a balanced budget and has started producing documentaries and animations,” said its managing director Seyed Mohammad-Mahdi Tabatabai-Nejad, who took charge of the DEFC a year ago, ISNA reported.

Ida Panahandeh’s debut feature film ‘Nahid’, the first film of the DEFC under the auspices of Tabatabai-Nejad, won the Promising Future Prize in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section of the 68th Cannes Film Festival less than a month ago.

In spite of the success of the center in producing a globally acclaimed film, he rued the low-production budget of the movies and said, “This is due to the low budget allocation for the center”.

In 2008, when he was deputy at the center, the annual budget allocated to DEFC was $2.3 million but in 2014 the budget decreased to $2.2 million. “This means that not only has our budget not increased, but at the same time the average production costs have gone up fourfold.”

In this situation, “we are working miracles as the budget does not suffice for the field of poetry let alone cinema that is costly,” he maintained.

However, the past Iranian year (ended March 20) was fruitful for the DEFC despite all the problems since 18 of its works won international awards. Among 375 productions in various fields such as documentary, fiction and animation at 265 international festivals, 51 films took part in competition sections and other events of the festivals.

“Filmmakers, particularly documentarians, have made great efforts to follow national and religious values in their productions. But they sometimes have to face an unjust attitude,” Tabatabai-Nejad noted. “Trust is a mutual process between artists and officials, and it is not fair to expect artists to give up (their rightful demands) while officials act stricter every day.”

Making social documentaries is a tough job, almost like ploughing through a minefield. “The society certainly has to deal with problems, and it is not possible to merely portray the positive aspects,” he underlined.

If filmmakers cannot show social reality, they would be shying away from the people and the truth, and what they produce will be fantasy far from tangible matters.

Unfortunately, political perspectives on cultural issues have damaged creative works of artists while they are two separate issues,” Tabatabai-Nejad asserted.

Pointing to constructive criticism as an essential tool for development, he said, “Officials who criticize may have good intentions but as they are not usually familiar with the field, their judgment is not helpful and only creates obstacles”.

DEFC is the main center for production, distribution and promotion of fiction, documentary, animation and experimental films in Iran. It also offers services to film festivals, film markets, TV channels, theaters, universities, institutes and other organizations, interested in Iranian fiction, documentary, animation, experimental and feature films.