Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association

About Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association

The Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association (IRDFA) is the first directors’ guild in Iran to focus on documentary filmmakers. It was founded in January 1998 within the Iranian “House of Cinema” establishment and alongside other cinema guilds. The IRDFA is an independent and non-governmental organization whose main goal has always been centered on regulating the behavior of governmental organizations with regards to investment in and distribution of Iranian documentary films.

Relying on the ability and knowledge of active documentary filmmakers, the IRDFA pursues the following goals:

•    guild support for independent documentary filmmakers
•    providing motivation and solutions to deal with problems in the profession
•    creating an atmosphere for communication between documentary filmmakers and other cinema guilds.

The IRDFA ( has around 300 members in the field of directing and producing/directing of documentary films. It is a center where films are screened and documentary filmmakers can undergo training in Iran, and also an important organization in terms of making cultural and artistic contacts with other centers in the world.

History Of IRDFA

Establishing board of Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association was born inside House of Cinema , for the better recognition of production forces and to provide independent organizations. In October 1996, despite the presence of production forces (producers and private sector’s offices), fate of documentary making was almost totally in the hand of governmental organizations, and TV not only did not allocate any role for Iran’s private documentary makers.

but on the whole there was no relation between the documentary films and the society.

On the other hand, the House of Cinema’s authorities, which had 26 trade unions of story telling cinema under its umbrella did not believe the reality of the existence of documentary makers as a trade union in private sector. Therefore, establishing board prioritized limited summoning documentary makers, studying and consulting in order to achieve one unionized articles of association.  While there was resistance for the presence of documentary makers in House of Cinema, establishing board proposed that if House of Cinema includes Iran’s cinematic trade unions, documentary and animation makers should have also a place. But if it only belongs to story telling cinema, House of Cinema must announce it officially.

This presumption that Iranian cinema consists of three branches of story telling cinema,documentary and animation .

and the fact that House of Cinema must include all the branches of cinema has fortunately been accepted.

and cleared the path for accepting the documentary making Society in House of Cinema’s trade unions.

Finally on 25 January 1997, establishing board succeeded in holding the first general assembly of documentary makers, which ratified the draft of Articles of Association and elected boards of directors in order to follow up the documentary makers’ claims and demands.

◊ The Society’s goals according to articles of association are:

Expansion and development of Iranian documentary cinema’s “art industry”; compilation of cultural and economic policies of Iranian documentary cinema and partnership with other legal organs in this field; defending the general right of documentary makers of Iranian cinema (ex. author’s right, etc.); creating job and profession security; protecting members’ unionized rights and making efforts to increase their professional performance level; linking with other trade unions and Iran’s cinema producing centers to create job and protect members’ moral, material and professional rights;

evaluating cooperation fields and establishing relation with Iran and the world’s artistic-cultural centers in order to make possible production, distribution and screening Iranian documentary films; holding festivals, sessions to screen, discuss and evaluate documentary films of Iran and the world; providing facilities for social security; establishing a databank based on Society’s requirements; establishing councils for resolving disputes in the trade union’s contractual framework (in case both or either party refers).

◊ Role and Performance Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association

The Society of documentary filmmakers has allocated part of its efforts to regulate the public organs’ behavior towards investment, screening documentary films and documentary filmmakers. Since government had theoretically supported the trade unions, the board of directors could negotiate with the country’s cinematic authorities and even persuade the cinematic deputy of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to create an appropriate atmosphere for investment and screening independent documentary films from governmental organs and television, but with the change in governmental management, this policy was not achieved.

The society’s efforts for positive participation of government in documentary cinema resulted in publication of policy booklets and documentary methods by government (cinematic deputy of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance) for the first time, which did not fulfill the promises announced itself, but is remained as a document from current developments in policy making and Society’s emphasis on regulating. Boards of directors have not had any success in face to face and effective relation with TV managers. Of course in this period Channel 4 was inaugurated by television, which on the surface emphasizes on documentary filmmaking. But instead of inviting documentary filmmakers for production of documentary films, mostly produces TV programs on documentary films or showing foreign documentaries.

◊ Cultural Activities

Iran and the World Documentary Films Week was held with this secondary aim to attract part of potential documentary filmmaking students to cinemas and to prove that documentary film is not only TV’s phenomenon. Although, our success was limited in attracting audiences, due to indiscriminate press ban, it was continued in other forms.

1-Introducing “Forough Film Week” by Society of Documentary Filmmakers

2-Showing Iran’s documentaries in France’s “cinema du reel”

3-Showing Iran’s documentaries in Netherlands’ “IDFA Documentary Film Festival

4-Showing documentaries in cultural centers

5-Participation and cooperation in holding documentary film weeks (domestic and international) and festivals.

◊ Recognizing the profession’s tools

In order to survive,the Iranian documentary cinema was forced to recognize new markets and to sell its products to them. Participation in Fajr Film Festival market was a prelude to above . Our Society supported establishing of Documentary Films Producers Society and has set forth the motto “Towards Trade Union” since 2001, which despite being neglected or even objected by some members of both societies. this lack of trust is gradually disappearing and it is hoped their cooperation to produce work and to establish video films distribution and sale offices and centers be effective.

◊ Goals and difficulties

Making documentary films has still not become a demand. There are no special regulations to support documentary making. The share of Iranian documentary cinema in policymaking and allocation of annual and national budgets is not specified. Furthermore, our Society as a nongovernmental organization does not have any budget to rent a permanent place. We were in Artists House as guests for a while and now have returned to House of Cinema again. We still have not established our real platform and role in the structure of House of Cinema, though.

Finally, Society’s establishing board resigned after holding its first general assembly.

Iranian Documentry Filmmakers Associasion

The Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association (IRDFA) is the first directors’ guild in Iran to focus on documentary filmmakers. It was founded in January 1998

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