Authorities in Iran have dissolved the country's main film industry guild, the House of Cinema, despite an outcry from several renowned Iranian directors, media reported on Wednesday.
Iran's culture ministry said it made the decision because the union had modified its founding statutes by deleting an adherence to the constitution without consulting officials. In addition, authorities reproached the House of Cinema for politicising certain events, notably an annual film festival during which some filmmakers expressed critical views of Iran's leaders.
The House of Cinema, which counts 5,000 members of various film industry professions, has appealed its dissolution, arguing that only a court, not the government, can give such an order.
Several prominent directors have written to Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini asking him to annul his decision. The parliament's culture committee is also studying the case, with several MPs having criticised Hosseini's order.
Asghar Farhadi, director of the movie A Separation, which has won many international awards and nominated for a foreign-language Oscar next month, has voiced support for his colleagues.
The development adds to difficulties Iran's cinema industry has encountered in recent years. One of Iran's most famous filmmakers, Jafar Panahi, has been sentenced to jail and is banned from making movies for 20 years after he tried to make a documentary on the unrest after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009.
The House of Cinema also stood up for several documentary makers who were arrested on charges of working with the BBC, then released.