Got the Golden Shell but still not free in Iran

  • - By Devrim Kilic
  • 03/10/2006 00:00:00

Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi's last feature film 'Nîvê Heyvê' (Kurdish for Half Moon) is banned in Iran on the basis that it was a ‘separatist’ film. Bahman Ghobadi told the press, during the award ceremony at 54. San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, that although he is happy of getting Golden Shell, the best film award, for Half Moon, he is very sorry as his film has not been able to get the permission for screening in Iran yet.

Also Ghobadi told, in an interview conducted by Michael Guillen for Toronto International Film Festival, that he already made self-censoring in the film but it looks like that was not enough for the Iranian authorities. He said: “For example, I had a beautiful musical sequence where women sang but I had to self-censor it for myself because I knew it would be a problem for the government to accept it. So I cut it. The irony of it is that, even though I censored myself so badly, last week in Iran my film was banned for the very first time. The accusation was that the film was separatist, which is absolutely absurd. It's not a separatist movie at all. That's the reason why now I regret my self-censorship. I feel now that, if it had to be banned, I should have filmed it like I wanted to do in the first place.” (

Interestingly this is not the first time Ghobadi facing restriction from the Iranian censors. When Bahman Ghobadi completed his second feature and applied for screening permission for the film he has been told by Iranian authorities that the original title of the film, “The Songs of My Motherland” was too “nationalist”. The authorities advised him to change the title but Ghobadi resisted keeping the original title. (Jamsheed Akrami’s interview with Bahman Ghobadi, at As a result of this dilemma his second feature, which later titled by the distribution company as “Marooned in Iraq”, was only screened in one theater in Iran in the city of Tehran, apart from Kurdistan region of Iran.

Likewise young Iranian woman director Samira Makmalbaf’s second feature film “Blackboards” made in 2000, which tells the plight of Kurdish teachers and victims of Halabja massacre wandering on the mountains of Kurdistan, had faced same kind of trouble because of its Kurdish content and thus the film had to be smuggled out of Iraq and completed in Italy.

Half Moon in Pusan and Reykjavik International Film Festivals

On the other hand Half Moon is invited to two other important international film festivals in South Korea and Iceland. Half Moon will be screened in 11th Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea. "Half Moon" will be screened in "A Window on Asian Cinema" section during the festival which will be taking place from October 12th to 20th in South Korea.

Besides Ghobadi’s Half Moon will be screening in 3rd Reykjavik International Film Festival taking place from September 28th to October 8th in Iceland. Half Moon will be presented in a section named 3X3. Ghobadi’s earlier feature films "Turtles Can Fly" and "A Time for Drunken Horses" will also in the festival program.

Nîvê Heyvê, Iran, Iraq (Kurdistan Regional Government), Austria and France joint production, to some extent resembles Ghobadi’s second feature “Marooned in Iraq- aka Songs of My Motherland”. The film tells the story of a group of Kurdish musicians traveling to South Kurdistan from Iran to perform a concert. Ghobadi told the press that he dedicated his film to Kurdish nation and in Half Moon he wanted to portray the difficulties the singers face in Iran.

Bahman Ghobadi won Caméra d'Or prize with his first feature film, A Time for Drunken Horses at Cannes in 2000. Ghobadi’s second feature Songs of My Motherland (2002), was also screened at Cannes in 2002, in Un Certain Regard, and won a prize at Chicago International Film Festival held at the same year.

Half Moon was also shown at 31st Toronto International Film Festival which took place between 7 to 16 September in Canada.

  • - By Devrim Kilic
  • 03/10/2006 00:00:00