Open Letter to Empire Theatres Regarding Regime Sponsored Iranian Short Film Festival in Toronto


Sayeh Hassan
by Sayeh Hassan

Empire Empress Walk
5095 Yonge Street
North York, Ontario

Dear Sir/Madam,

It has come to our attention through Iranian Arts in Exile Committee that you are hosting a festival of short films at the Empire Theatres on 5095 Yonge Street on November 6th to November 12th 2009. As you may be aware this festival is funded and organized by the Iranian Young Cinema Society (attaché of cinema department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran.)

This festival is named in honour of “Seifollah Daad”, who was closely linked with the Islamic Regimes’ Cultural Ministry for years before his death. He was also the Director of the “Anti Semitic” film, the “Survivor” and the writer of screenplay of the film “the Son of Morning” about the life of “Khomeini” directed by Behrooz Afkhami. (Afkhami is the Iranian filmmaker who even became a member of the Islamic Regime Parliament and presently is running classes/seminars on screenplay writing at two locations in Toronto.

We are very concerned about the fact that your theatre has agreed to host such a festival, given the fact that Iranian Artists inside Iran must receive the approval of the Ministry of Culture in order to publish their films, records, books and other forms of art. This is extremely difficult given the state of censorship in Iran which has led to the creation of “Underground Cinema/Arts” in Iran.

The fact that the organizers of this festival are closely related to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran and are funding such an event is nothing short of hypocrisy. While restricting and censoring artists inside the country, the Islamic Regime is using these types of cultural events as propaganda and trying to convince the International Community that it respects freedom of expression and the rights of Iranian Artists.

In light of the great restrictions and censorship put on Iranian independent artists inside Iran by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the lack of freedom of speech and expression imposed on artists and the Iranian Society in general by the Regime we urge you to show your support and solidarity with the Iranian People and independent artists living in a jail called Islamic Republic of Iran, rather than with the Islamic Regime, by not hosting festivals that are backed and supported by the Islamic Regime of Iran.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Yours truly,

Sayeh Hassan, Criminal Defense Lawyer and Pro-Democracy Activist

Lila Ghobady, Journalist & Human Rights Activist in Exile


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