AMPAS is launching a week-long series on Iranian film to be hosted at UCLA and the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater. Guests include ten Iranian film artists now in L.A. Among them is actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, who was reported to be blacklisted in Iran
UPDATE: According to an update from the Mowj opposition website from 23 hours ago, Ms. Fatemeh Motamed-Aria was barred from leaving Iran. Yet the Academy has made no corrections or issued any new press releases regarding the famed Iranian actress. So is she with the delegation in LA for the film screening series? Or still in Iran, and unable to leave? Will update story as information becomes available.
UPDATE FROM TEHRAN TIMES: According to a very recent update from the state-run Tehran Times, Fatemeh Motamed-Aria has been allowed to travel with the delegation, though the Times article does seem to contain a veiled warning to the Iranian filmmakers in Los Angeles for the AMPAS series:
This is the first time an official Iranian group is slated to attend a Hollywood-arranged program. The Iranian delegation should be concerned about how the new administration at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance will view their travel to the United States.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance oversees and regulates the Islamic Republic's film industry.
Original news report as follows.
According to an October 6th press release by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science entitled Iranian Filmmakers to Take Academy Stage, AMPAS is kicking off a week-long series of screenings and panel discussions on Iranian film. Among Oscar's guest panelists for these events will be ten renowned Iranian filmmakers and artists in the United States for the occasion: directors Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour, Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Ebrahim Hatamikia, Reza Mir-Karimi, Mojtaba Raie and Alireza Raisian; actors Amin Tarokh and Fatemah Motamed-Aria; screenwriter Farhad Tohidi; and documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. What is unusual in that roster is the name of famous award-winning actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, the most well-known actress in Iran. Ms. Motamed-Aria also figures prominently in the oscars.org promotional The Road To Isfahan, highlighting Team Oscar's trip to Iran in March. Fatemeh can be seen sitting sitting between Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard during a joint acting seminar in Iran.
As to the blacklisting in Iran's film industry, on August 12 both Bloomberg.com and the Green opposition website Mowj reported that Ms. Motamed-Aria was among over 100 Iranian film artists blacklisted by the Ahmadinejad regime for supporting Mir Hussein Mousavi and the Greens, and is now banned from all appearances in state TV, film, radio and other media. As the Mowj site is in Farsi, I cannot tell if any of the other Iranian film artists in attendance for this screening and discussion panel series have also been blacklisted, but Ms. Motamed-Aria's name was prominent in the August 12 Bloomberg report.
The week-long schedule of screenings and panel discussions, which AMPAS has dubbed “Up Close and Personal: Iranian Filmmakers in Their Own Words,” will kick off tonight (October 9) at UCLA's James Bridge Theater at 7:30PM. Leading the first panel discussion will be former Academy President and Team Oscar leader Sid Ganis. Two more events are scheduled at the James Bridge Theater for Saturday and Sunday. The next event will take place at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater on October 15, and will wrap at that same venue on October 16 with a program hosted by actress and former Team Oscar member Alfre Woodard. Tickets for the UCLA events are available to the general public through the James Bridge Theater box office. Tickets for the Linwood Dunn events are available through the Academy.
Though the schedule of events for the AMPAS film seminars appears highly ordered and well-planned, many recent film festivals and events featuring Iranian filmmakers became rallying points behind the opposition. On September 24th, many Iranian filmmakers at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain turned the event into a stage from which they railed against Ahmadinejad and in support of Mousavi. All wore green scarves symbolic of the post-election Green Revolution. The most recent Venice Film Festival also turned into a platform for the Iranian filmmakers to condemn the Ahmadinejad regime and rally support for Mousavi and the opposition. Green scarves were also prominently on display at that event on Sept. 10.