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Abolfazl Jalili is an Iranian director who is honored around the world and banned in his country

Abolfazl Jalili is an Iranian director who is honored around the world and banned in his country

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Chantilly (France) (AFP) – Iranian director Abolfazl Jalili does not hide his astonishment at his country’s ban on showing his films despite their great international success, but this did not discourage him and he is currently participating in the Iranian Film Festival in Chantilly, near Paris.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Jalili attributed the Iranian official’s estrangement towards his actions to the fact that “officials do not feel comfortable with me.”

However, “if one wants to understand Iran, one must follow its cinematic works because it represents the spirit of this country,” according to Alireza Khalili, one of the organizers of the Iranian Film Festival, which is taking place in its first session in the Chantilly region near the French capital and continues until Sunday.

At the end of the festival, the film “The Opposite Way”, the latest work of Abu Al-Fadl Jalili, will be shown. However, this work did not have permission to show in his home country. Out of about twelve films directed by Jalili, only one film received permission to be shown in Iran… for only one week.

The aforementioned film was released in 1987 under the title “Gal” and tells the story of a teenager accused of publishing banned newspapers who is sent to a rehabilitation center.

“I asked once: ‘Why are you banning my films from showing?’ They replied, ‘People think that what appears in your films is real and what happens in them is real,'” Jalili told AFP.

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In the film “The Opposite Way” (2020), which won the Asian Film Festival in Shanghai, Jalili tells the story of a young filmmaker named Imkan who encounters the refusal of his country’s institutions to screen his films.

When the director is asked about the resemblance between him and the hero of his film, Jalili, who began his career shooting documentaries and is taken for granted by his very direct style, says, “Imkan has suffered only ten percent of what I suffered in the field of cinema.”

In terms of publishing Iranian cultural productions, the Islamic Republic adopts an ambiguous policy: censorship is not always strict and some filmmakers enjoy great official support and Tehran boasts of their work, including Asghar Farhadi, while others face a ban in their country.

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Thus, despite his film “An Honest Man” winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, director Mohammad Rasoulof was sentenced to one year in prison for conducting negative propaganda against the Iranian regime.

Some other directors are in a gray area, sometimes praised while sometimes facing bans or their work is only promoted abroad, among them Abul Fadl Jalili.

Born in 1957 in the city of Sava in central Iran, Jalili began his career directing television films. Despite the obstacles, he still works on and shoots his films in his country and focuses on characters for children or teenagers.

His works have won many international awards: at the Venice Film Festival in 1996 (“Det Means a Girl”) and at the Locarno Festival in 1999 (“Dance of Dust”). He also participated in the official competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival with the movie “Kish Stories”.

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“When I object, they ask me why I’m upset since my films are successful in other countries,” Jalili explains.

It uses various methods to maintain contact with the Iranian public. “I give interviews and make interventions in universities via Instagram,” he says.

He says he goes to the cinema to see people, not just to watch movies.

Abolfadl Jalili is preparing for a feature film and hopes to benefit from as much publicity as possible.

“Some say to me that I should exclude the United States. But my duty as an artist is to attract everyone without exception,” while relations between the two countries have been very tense for decades.