Economy, Domestic Economy

Iranian Cinema Through Budgetary Lens

Iranian Cinema Through Budgetary LensIranian Cinema Through Budgetary Lens

The government has earmarked 1,519 billion rials ($50.63 million at official exchange rate) for the cinema in the budget bill for the upcoming Iranian fiscal year (starting March 20, 2016).

The figure is minimal, yet it shows a 50% increase compared to that of the current Iranian year.

“Cinema is a developing business compared to other forms of art. Currently, the average cost of making a movie is around 15 billion rials ($503,018). To add a seat to a movie theater, you need to spend $5,030 (excluding the land costs). So, you cannot expect to see all the problems go away with $50.63 million,” said Amirhossein Alamolhoda, director general for planning, budget and administrative overhaul of the Cinema Organization of Iran, in an interview with the Persian weekly Tejarat-e Farda.

“This budget won’t help if we wish to have a say in show business.”  

Alamolhoda likened the proposed budget for cinema to a civil servant’s fixed income, only enough to lead a hand-to-mouth existence.

“State employees can’t do magic with their income; they can’t make investments or buy a new home or car. This is the case with the budget allocated to the domestic film industry. Iran’s cinema is struggling to survive. We are painfully mistaken if we think the movie industry can make a leap forward with such meager resources,” he added.

Alamolhoda said many countries have gone places by securing domestic and foreign investments.

“Once they declare their willingness to attract investment, they trim cumbersome rules and regulations and not place hurdles in the way of investments though restrictive bylaws. Instead they resolve all the issues to revive their film industry,” he said.

“The parliament, executive and judiciary branches of the government and oversight bodies should be open to private sector involvement for the development of infrastructures, particularly cinema-building.”

The official noted that billions of rials should be spent for the development of infrastructures, so there is no option but to absorb private sector money.

He called for the government’s hands-on approach to cinema management.

“It should play the role of supervisor and policymaker. It should help secure foreign investment, introduce Iranian movies to the international markets and set the stage for joint production with other countries,” he said.

On the costs of setting up the Art and Experience Group, the cinematic group formed to show experimental, documentary and short films 16 months ago, Alamolhoda said movies belonging to independent filmmakers have revived small businesses within Iran’s film industry.

“We hope to see macro businesses rise from small, micro enterprises,” he concluded.