Director Majid Majidi calls on ulema to pave way for Islamic films
Art and Experience:
Majid Majidi, the Iranian director of “Muhammad, the Messenger of God”, has called on ulema to lift restrictions on Islamic films and to allow filmmakers to give the world a realistic and accurate insight into Islam.
He made the remarks on Monday during a press conference for the Mourning at Home Short Film Festival, which has been renamed “Tenth Image Short Film Festival”.
The festival was launched in 2020 by the Rahe Iman Charity Organization this year to encourage people to stay at home during the Muharram mourning season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and organize the rituals with the members of their own families.
“Our ulema have not supported artists in major cultural fields over the years or if there has been any support they have not been efficient; it’s easy to thwart a plan, but the right action is to remove the restrictions,” Majidi said.
He also asked top Muslim clerics to consider issues of the modern world and said, “One of the reasons behind the inaccurate understanding of Islam is that the ulema have taken a passive role. As a result, the others lead the field by giving an improper image of Islam.”
He criticized the ulema for their adverse reactions to “Hussein, Who Said No”, director Ahmadreza Darvish’s epic on the Ashura tragedy, and said, “Mr. Darvish had made great efforts to make the film; it may be that there is something wrong in that way, but the ulema should help correct the way.”
Depiction of Shia saints in the movie sparked a storm of protest from some of the ulema following the premiere of the film at the 32nd Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran in February 2014.
The depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and his household in any art production is not allowed by the ulema.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance promised the clerics that it would only authorize the movie after some modifications. As a result, over 40 minutes of the original film were cut out.
However, the alterations failed to placate the clerics and the culture ministry stopped screening the film hours after its premiere at Iranian theaters on July 15, 2015 following protests by the ulema and certain others.
Majid held meetings with top Muslim clerics in Iran before making his 2015 epic “Muhammad: The Messenger of God” about the childhood of the Prophet of Islam (S).
The film was Iran’s submission to the best foreign-language film category at the 88th Academy Awards.
Renowned international craftsmen and artists such as editor Roberto Perpignani, special effects designer Scott E. Anderson, makeup designer Gianetto De Rossi and Indian composer A. R. Rahman collaborated with Majidi in the production.