做國際新聞翻譯行內有一個笑話：當美國總統選舉候選人的名字愈短愈「着數」，名字有三個音節以上根本沒可能選上；伊朗政治領袖的名字卻彷彿愈長愈厲害，前總統「艾哈邁迪內賈德」便考起了很多新聞報導員。可能是同一個原因，雖然伊朗電影在香港早已成為藝術電影的「優質保證」，但一眾文青還是只記得基阿魯斯達米（Kiasrostami）。影意志這次放映希望介紹另一個名字給香港觀眾，似乎不易成功，因為他的名字也頗難讀── 麥馬巴夫 Makhmalbaf。
筆者不是影評人，受邀寫這篇短文主要是因為曾在伊朗生活過一段時間。因此筆者的任務，是搜集一些有關兩部影片A Moment of Innocence及Salam Cinema的背景資料，讓觀者可以通過這次放映，進入充滿深層次矛盾的伊朗。
一九九六年完成的A Moment of Innocence就是建基於Makhmalbaf二十年前的襲擊案。原本的名字叫《麵包與花瓶》（Nun Va Goldun），Makhmalbaf透過紀錄以新演員重演二十年前襲擊案的過程，提出了對暴力革命的質疑，混合了自傳、紀錄片和戲劇等類型。影片開首，貌似成奎安的老警察登門拜訪真正的Makhmalbaf（開門的是後來也成為導演的小女兒Hana），在戲中他正是老警察本人，但在Salam Cinema中「老警察」是Makhmalbaf新招來，喜歡扮演壞人的新演員。Salam Cinema亦有提到Makhmalbaf的革命經歷，一位過去的囚友同志帶着兩個兒子來應徵演員，還拉着導演到暗處說人情──老革命的心思已經從拯救人民轉到如何協助兒子藉伊朗電影成名。
另一個相關的題目是伊朗電影由九○年代起的成就，如何一邊廂讓伊朗人恢復了文化自信，另一邊廂又成為青年逃離社會及政治壓抑的出口。正如文首所說，伊朗和中國一樣，多年來一直是輸出文化的帝國，波斯文和波斯文學的影響範圍，西至土耳其、東至印度、阿富汗以至現今的中亞新疆。當年以詩歌飲譽世界的伊朗人，到了二十世紀居然被視為野蠻的恐怖分子，這對伊朗人的打擊非常大。伊斯蘭革命以後的伊朗電影，吸收了伊朗傳統詩歌的營養，並取而代之成為最受注目的文化輸出，令伊朗重新成為受國際重視的文化大國，國人對於電影的寄望與重視，可想而知。這點可以由Salam Cinema一開始的墟冚場面充份體現。（岔開一筆：筆者認為多位伊朗導演在二○○一年塔利班倒台後到阿富汗拍片，包括麥馬巴夫Mohsen Makhmalbaf本人和他的女兒薩米拉.麥馬巴夫Samira Makhmalbof，達到的效果不單是「原汁原味」地反映阿富汗人物的生活，更是彰顯了伊朗對同文不同種的阿富汗的文化支配地位）
Makhmalbaf: To Love and Hate Iran
Text：Chu Hoi Dick
There is an inside joke among those international news translators: if you were one of the US president candidates, the shorter your name is, the more advantageous you will be. If your name has more than three syllables, you probably won't be elected. However, it seems that longer names can bring Iran's political leaders more power. The previous president's name "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" is definitely a difficult task for all news reporters. Maybe this is the same reason why local hipsters can only remember "Abba Kiasrostami" even though Iran art films' quality was recognized as guaranteed in Hong Kong long time ago. This year, Ying E Chi wants to introduce another name to Hong Kong audiences, seemingly not easy to succeed though because her name is harder to pronounce— "Makhmalbaf" I am not a film critic, the reason why I was invited to write this short article is that I spent a period of time staying at Iran. Therefore, my mission here is to collect some background information related to these two films, "a moment of innocence" and "salam cinema". Hopefully audiences can understand the deep-rooted conflicts in Iran after the screenings.
Over the past hundred years, Iran and China had similar fate. The Turkic Qajar dynasty was declining at the end of nineteenth century, members of the royal family tried to westernize the country to make it stronger but failed. Then it was overthrown by military coup in nineteenth twenties. The Britain and the USA controlled the newly created Pahlavi dynasty and so the state was reduced to be semi-colony. There was a big contrast between westernized big cities such as Tehran and the muslimized villages, such as the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Anti-authoritarian and anti- colonial movements were brewing for years and finally in 1979, the movement developed into successful revolution by Shia Islamic leaders, which took over the power. However, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein at that time, seized the chance and attacked the regime before it became stable. The war between Iran and Iraq last for eight years, and then stopped until 1988. After this, those Iran films, where Hong Kong people started to know about in 90s, were produced.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, born in 1957, caught up with the 70s revolutionary wave just in time. He became a typical Muslim revolutionary when he was just ten-something. At age 17, he used knife to attack the police under the Pahlavi regime. He also tried to grab a gun and rob the royal members to help the poor, being caught in jail. He was tortured in jail and his Muslim brothers saved him until the revolution gained more power. After the new regime was built up, Makhmalbaf, who deserved well of the revolution, joined the broken and disordered Iran film circle (most film workers are exiles in foreign countries), beginning to shoot films, which praise Muslim revolution. But at the later stage of the war between Iran and Iraq, his films started to reflect his dissatisfaction towards violence and social reality. In 2005, when the conservative representative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the president election, Makhmalbaf left Iran. After the protest against Iran regime, which was called "Green Revolution", Makhmalbaf settled down in Paris. Among the current famous Iran directors, we cannot find someone like Makhmalbaf, who was a radical revolutionary and expelled by Iran regime.
"A Moment of Innocence", which was finished in 1996, was based on the assault case twenty years ago. The original name of the film was "Bread and vase" (nun va goldun). With help of related records, Makhmalbaf invited new actors to reconstruct the process of that assault case, rendering his doubts about violent revolution. This film was a mixture of biography, documentary and drama. It started with an old policeman, who had a ferocious face like the local actor Shing Fui-on, visiting the real Makhmalbaf in person (the one who opened the door later became the director's little daughter Hana). This may confuse us about whether the policeman was also real. If you also watch "hello cinema", you will find that Makhmalbaf newly hired the old policeman, who is a new actor and likes to play bad guy roles. "salam cinema" mentioned about Makhmalbaf's revolutionary experience. His brother in jail in the past brought his two sons to apply for actors. He even pulled Makhmalbaf aside to have a private talk—the old revolutionary's attention was shifted from saving people to assisting his sons to be famous Iran film stars.
The Iran regime's films censorship consists of two parts, part one is to restrict foreign films, and the other part is to muslimize native films. The former part can stop the monopolization by Hollywood within the country and revitalize local film industry. As for the latter part, whether it is strict or loose depends on the situation of political struggles in Iran. After the Iran Muslim regime came into power, it washed away the leftists and liberalists, which actually resisted the royal altogether before. But within the regime, it quickly split into different factions, and it became two wings, which were reformists (kind of liberalists) and conservationists respectively. The reformists reached its peak in 1997 when Khatami won the president election. At the beginning of the same year, "Taste of cherry" (Ta'm e guilass), directed by Kiarostami, won golden palm at the Cannes Film Festival. Not a unique instance, Kiarostami had resumed the culture minister for a long time since 80s, responsible for managing film industry. When it came to 90s, the Iran government noticed that Iran films could make good impression of Iran and attract foreign investment, and so it approved more critical films to pass the censorship, bringing up the golden age of Iran films. In 2005, conservationists were back from all sides, the environment of film production became harder and harder. In 2009, after the failure of "Green revolution", the film production was in doldrums. The famous director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to jail in 2010 and prohibited from shooting films for twenty years. Another related topic is how the achievements of Iran films in 90s recovered the confidence of its culture in one way, and became the threshold of social and political suppression in the other way. Like what I said at at the beginning of this article, Iran was the same with China, it is an empire that has been exporting culture over the years. The influence of Persian language and Persian literature extended from the west such as Turkey, to the east such as India, Afghanistan and today's central Asia Xinjiang. Iran people, renowned as writing poems to the world in the past, were recognized as barbaric terrorists in 20th Iran people. Films after the muslim revolution absorbed the nutrients in traditional Iran poems, replacing them as cultural exports in the limelight, which made Iran once again become the great cultural nation highly respected by the world. From this, we can imagine the significance of films to Iran people. This can be reflected from the overwhelming first scene in "hello cinema". (By the way, after the fall of Taliban in 2001, many Iran directors went to Afghanistan to shoot films, including Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his daughter Samira Makhmalbaf. I think that not only did they vividly portray the "authentic" Afghanistan people and their life, but also embodied the dominating position of culture of Iran over Afghanistan which has the same language but different races with Iran.
Of course, the social reality of Iran does not permit Iran youngsters to be optimistic. Under overwhelmingly high unemployment rate among youth and political control, younger generation has no way to go. Other than restoring Iran's cultural prestige, film industry is also an opportunity to youngsters to get away from economic problems and to relieve themselves. (Just like Brazil kids flush to play soccer, but only a few can kick out their bright future) In "hello cinema", everybody pretends to love acting, but most of them just want to escape from social reality and Iran. (Only one girl dares to reveal her story behind and so she draws Makhmalbaf's attention) To love and to hate Iran, to be proud of Iran's culture but have to leave Iran—that's the struggle, which Makhmalbaf and many other Iran people face.