Iran’s top cultural event jeopardized by artist boycotts

Al-Monitor | : Confronting a boycott by Iranian artists, the Fajr International Film Festival announced the cancellation of its opening ceremony, originally scheduled for Feb. 1. In a statement released Jan. 15, festival organizers cited the “public atmosphere of the community” in sympathy with the grieving families of those killed in Iran’s accidental downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8.

The cancellation marks a rare occurrence, as the festival’s traditional opening in February and its concluding awards ceremony are usually star-studded, high-profile affairs staged to showcase Iran’s contribution to global cinema and culture. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance sponsors and supervises the festival, which premiered in 1982 and is held every year on the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

The move by festival organizers follows in the wake of demonstrations sparked by anger over the Iranian government’s initial denial and then admission that two missiles fired by its armed forces had struck the civilian airliner, resulting in the deaths of 176 people, including a number of medical doctors, university professors and students.

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