Soft War: The 2014 Fajr International Film Festival

On February 1st to 11th, 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its 32nd Annual Fajr International Film Festival. Despite restrictive state policies and limited financial support for the arts since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the arts scene in Iran is nonetheless very dynamic. Iranian cinema in particular has been a key source of cultural exports since the revolution and won acclaim around the globe. Historically, many of Iran’s best films have been showcased at the Fajr festival, with the best films receiving Iran’s equivalent of an “Oscar,” known as a “Crystal Simorgh.” Despite being a state-backed event, the Fajr festival continues to show-case high quality and independent films which are usually well-received by the public, and this year, as in the past, witnessed long lines of Iranian movie-goers eager to see the annual crop of films. Like the rest of the arts in Iran, however, films can deeply political and linked to the Islamic Republic’s concerns about national security, especially what the regime labels as “soft war”.

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