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The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

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55th BFI London Film Festival: Goodbye
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rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly




It is about time I finished my write-ups of films that I saw as part of the London Film Festival that I wanted to talk about. The first of these is Goodbye:
When your country starts treating you like you don't belong, then it's time to leave. Follow the link for more details:
http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/node/1698

Again, this is less of a film review and more of a personal reaction to the film. Goodbye is an Iranian film, which depicts life in modern-day Iran.

I have a romanticised notion of what living in the Arab world is like, based on my extensive travels around the region as a tourist. I love the Arab world and, because I dress respectfully and modestly, and have a brown skin, I have always been treated with courtesy and respect by Arab men. Even as a Christian, I still believe that the most beautiful and lyrical sound in the world is the call to prayer. Waking up to it every morning when I am in the Arab world is something that I treasure.

However, what this film drove home to me is that in today's Iran there is no freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of movement - no freedom full stop. For many people it is a living death. The filmmakers of this film, and other Iranian films, have been imprisoned for significant amounts of time, and banned from making films for decades. This is so sad. I read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and Iran, prior to Khomeini, was a liberal Muslim state, where women had rights, jobs and freedoms. Women's rights and equality are actually both enshrined and protected in the Koran.

I have always recognised and appreciated that I am very lucky to have been born in England, educated in England, and given all the life chances and opportunities that this country has given me. I am passionate about being both English and British. This film actually made me appreciate and value the many freedoms that I have as a British subject/citizen - principally freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement, and freedom to protest and also just the basic freedom of living in a Western liberal democracy. As a British subject/citizen I can pretty much think, say, do and go where I want; many people around the world cannot.

I fully appreciate that some people are more able to take advantage of these rights and freedoms than others. I know full well that the poor are disenfranchised in many ways in all societies, including within British society. That does not change the basic fact that we have many rights and freedoms in Britain that we often take for granted. This film and what had befallen its film-makers was a wake-up call.


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The BFI read a statement at the start of the film, asking people to write in to the Iranian embassy. This film-maker, and many like him, are in prison and have been banned from making films for decades. The BFI had wanted him to be allowed to travel to London to present his work as part of the Festival. They wrote to the Iranian Embassy making this request in writing. They received no reply.

Imprisoning film-makers and banning them from making films is criminal.

I am so used to freedom of speech in this country I am ashamed to admit that I take it for granted.

Edited at 2011-11-04 10:22 am (UTC)

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