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VOA Airs Banned Film "Rhino Season" in Iran

The award winning film, Rhino Season, by Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, airs on the Voice of America’s Persian Service today, after the filmmaker granted exclusive rights to broadcast the movie into Iran.

The film, which has been banned by the Iranian government, won the 2012 Asia Pacific Screen Award and the Prize of the Jury at the 2012 San Sebastian International Film Festival. It was also nominated as Best International Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival.

This is the first movie Ghobadi has made outside of Iran since he fled in 2009. He says it is important for the Voice of America to air the film in Iran because government censors are preventing it from being seen.

Ghobadi bases his latest work on the story of an Iranian-Kurdish poet named Sahel, who was imprisoned during the Iranian revolution of 1979. Rhino Season follows Sahel in his quest to find his wife and children after years of imprisonment. The film features flashbacks to the past, including complicated twists involving a jealous driver who betrays Sahel.

The movie features Italian actress Monica Bellucci as Sahel's wife, and well-known Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi, who has been living in exile and makes a return to the cinema after more than 30 years. The majority of the movie was shot on location in Istanbul, Turkey.

Ghobadi, who donated the broadcast rights to VOA, calls his film "a work of poetry" and a project that is in contrast to any of his previous work. "It shows the point of view of a Kurdish poet, whose family thinks he has died in prison," Ghobadi says.

The film airs first on VOA’s direct-to-home satellite stream Friday evening February 8th in Iran. It can also be watched online on the VOA Persian website.

For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write For more information about VOA visit the Public Relations website at, or the main news site at