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Source: Variety

Jul 24, 2023

Iranian Authorities Pressure ‘Critical Zone’ Director Ali Ahmadzadeh to Pull Out of Locarno Film Festival

By Naman Ramachandran

Ali Ahmadzadeh, director of Locarno competition title “Critical Zone,” is under threat from Iran’s ministry of security.

The film, shot without Iranian authorities’ permission before the “Woman, Life, Freedom” revolution in Iran, is billed as an artistic reflection on the anger and the rage of the young generation of Iranians.

“Guided by the voice of his GPS, Amir navigates the underworld districts of Tehran to comfort the troubled souls of the night,” reads the film’s description in the Locarno program.

“Instead of actors, I worked with real people. In most situations, we had to hide the camera or find complicated tricks to work around the limitations. Making this film was a big rebellion. Showing it means an even bigger victory for us,” Ahmadzadeh said in his director’s statement.

Ahmadzadeh has been under pressure from the security service to show them the film and pull it from Locarno, the filmmakers said, adding that the director has been blocked from getting a visa and banned from leaving Iran by the Iranian authorities.

Sales agent Luxbox and the producer, Sina Ataeian Dena, have received threatening emails and messages demanding to pull out the film.

Dena said: “The new technique is that an interrogator is investigating him day and night, constantly via text messages, while he receives threats from anonymous sources and all kinds of attacks and surreal accusations… that the film is a porn, the actresses of the film are taken as hostages in a villa by the Caspian sea and so on.”

The film is due to premiere on Aug. 10.

Dena added: “Ali is under constant psychological torture and we belive that making all these public might create a bit of protection for him.

According to what we predicted and agreed on a long time ago we will anyway premiere the film. Standing all kinds of threats and falls accusations became a part of our job and showing the film is most important part of our fight.”

Locarno artistic director Giona Nazzaro said: “The Locarno Film Festival has always stood by freedom of artistic expression and thought.

A place where cinema art is celebrated in all its manifestations, with respect for individual beliefs. We call for the release of Ali Ahmadzadeh and the respect of his physical and mental integrity and dignity as human being and artist.”

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