Art And Culture

Iran Cinema Faces Major Hurdles Overseas

Sports, Art & Culture Desks
Local film owners’ lack of knowledge about contract terms and procedures, inability to provide high advertising costs and local distributors’ persistence in doing without help from foreign companies are the reasons why Iranian films have no share in the g
Mehdi Yadegari and a view of last year’s marketMehdi Yadegari and a view of last year’s market

Iran cinema has proved its mettle across the globe in the past two decades by winning numerous awards at various prestigious film festivals including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, London, Montreal, Moscow, Chicago, Oscars and Golden Globe Awards among others; however, Iranian movies, except very few, have done poorly in the international market and as a matter of fact, many of them have not even had the chance to be released abroad.

In an interview with the Financial Tribune, the director of the 20th Iranian International Film Market (IFM), Mehdi Yadegari, explained the obstacles in the way of international distribution of Iranian productions.

“A limited number of Iranian private companies are involved in this field and have done well, although their success cannot be compared with the global international distributors,” and despite all that has been done “we are way behind the rest of the world when it comes to film distribution,” he said.

“From my experience, I can say that patronage from major film distributors can help us enter the global market”.

Citing an example, Yadegari, an expert in international film market, said Asghar Fahadi’s films have sold well in the world and this is due to having a well-known distributor (the French company Memento Films). “So we strive to connect to the international distributors and try to find our share in the global market,” he asserted.

For the 20th IFM, 35 international film companies mostly from the Middle East and neighboring countries, which have previously purchased Iranian productions, will come to Iran. “All of them have distributed Iranian movies or series in their cinemas, TV or on DVD in their respective countries, so we have invited them to attend the market again,” Yadegari said.

The IFM will be held concurrent with the 35th Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF), April 21-28, at Charsou Cineplex in downtown Tehran. The market aims to create a platform for promotion and distribution of family, humane and moral contents avoiding violence and voyeurism. To achieve this, IFM provides exclusive meeting and exchange opportunities for Iranian and international producers, distributors, exhibitors and sales agents of films and TV programs.

  Educational Workshops

As Yadegari explained, another problem the country faces in international distribution is that the filmmakers and producers are not familiar with the contract terms and required procedures and need to be informed in this regard. Therefore, “two workshops will be held on the sidelines of the IFM to help local filmmakers get acquainted with the process of working with foreign distributors,” he said.

The first workshop titled ‘standards for film distribution at international festivals and film markets’ will be held on April 24 and the second ‘rules and regulations for international film distribution,’ is slated for April 25.

One of the major factors for a good sale is advertising. But another issue which hinders Iran cinema to enter the world market is that local distributors cannot afford advertising costs. “A billboard costs $100,000 in a foreign market and which of the film owners here can risk to spend such a huge amount?”

The IFM director believes that a number of Iranian films have the potentials to draw international companies’ attention; however, local distributors sometimes try to present the films by themselves and avoid selling the rights for the international distribution of their productions to bigger companies as they assume they can do it on their own.

“It does not work this way. If we expect something big to happen, we should cooperate with major firms in this field,” he concluded.


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