Iran's democracy fighters have become dictators: Mohsen

PTI, PANAJI | 23 November 2014 15:17 IST

Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, whose film The President was screened on the inaugural day of the ongoing IFFI here, said those who fought for democracy in Iran, themselves became dictators later.

The 57-year-old filmmaker, a former revolutionary who had spent five years in jail, said that he met several people in the prison who fought for democracy.

"Many of them are in power now. They were my friends when we were in jail. Now they are my enemies," Makhmalbaf told PTI on the sidelines of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here today. 

"When they were in prison, they were very good people, ready to die for democracy. Why later on they became dictator... putting people in the prison, hanging people every day. That was the main question for me. Human beings can change when get power and can forget their innocence," the filmmaker said, who has made more than 20 feature films.

The globally-acclaimed director has won nearly 50 awards and has been a jury at major film festivals of the world. His film The President is about didactic morality tale about a fallen autocrat and his innocent grandson fleeing murderous revolutionaries bent on vengeance.

"Why we think dictator is only a person? Dictatorship is a culture. We find people of dictatorship. Who built republic of Iraq in Saddam Hussain's time except Iraqians? Who built republic of Iran except Iranian? We should change the people and cinema is the best medium. If you can change the mind of audience then they can change the mind of politicians," he asserted.

The filmmaker said that art can change a person and has experienced it himself. 

"When I was in politics, I was an extremist," he said, recalling his days as a teenager.

Sharing one of the incidences of his old days, Makhmalbaf said, "I'd stabbed a policeman and was jailed. Later, after 20 years I made a film on it. Through art, I changed my mind," referring to his 1996 film A Moment of Innocence

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