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February 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
This could be
the test for artistic freedom in Iran: Tahmineh Milani, a renowned
feminist filmmaker, is accused of waging a war against
God. She could face execution.
Amnesty International called her a prisoner of conscience after
she was arrested and jailed for seven days in late August (before
release on bail pending trial) for her latest film, The Hidden
Half. Milani, 41, has been accused by Tehrans Revolutionary
Court, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, of abusing
the arts as a tool for actions and support of counterrevolutionary
groupletsaccusations that carry the death sentence.
In fact, Milani is a pawn between the liberalizing policies
of President Mohammad Khatami and the fundamentalist hard-liners.
Her film was approved officially and it is still being shown
in Tehran. Even President Khatami publicly came to Milanis
rescue, in direct opposition to the clerics, supporting her
release on bail. Milani, however, still faces prosecution.
The Hidden Half focuses on a dutiful wife who reveals
to her husband her hidden past as an activist in opposition
to the Iranian revolution of 1979. Milanis persecution
began after the London-based Hambastegi, a publication of the
International Federation of Iranian Refugees, published an interview,
in which she acknowledged that her film depicted a reality she
had lived. [Milani] has taken greater risks than her better-known
contemporaries, rarely cloaking her messages in allegorical
terms and frequently speaking about her work in public,
wrote Steve Ross in Johannesburgs Mail & Guardian.
Now, Milanis case could become a victory in Khatamis
drive for reforms. Or it could leave this outspoken filmmaker
out in the cold.