The Curmudgeon


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Civilisation Safeguarded Once More

The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, whose film Ten is a small miracle achieved with only a car, a camera and a handful of actors, has fallen victim to the Border Agency's determination to ensure "that the UK continues to stay open and attractive to visitors". To this end, the British embassy in Tehran demanded paperwork, demanded fingerprints, granted a visa, withdrew the visa, demanded re-application, demanded fingerprints and pointed out that this was the sort of thing that had helped to catch five thousand criminals worldwide. The ambassador tried to intervene, but by then Kiarostami had decided that the privilege of working with the English National Opera during our present cultural renaissance was a bit more trouble than it was worth. "It would be tempting to brand [the actions of the embassy] Kafkaesque, yet to do so would be to imbue them with rather too much intelligence," he said. A spokesbeing for the Border Agency pointed out that, rather than intelligence, its staff were required to show "the utmost integrity and professionalism" and that it had "taken many steps to ensure that everyone - including foreign artists who make an important contribution to the UK - know about our tough rules, which include having a licensed sponsor". The opera which Kiarostami was to have directed will now be directed by his assistant, Elaine Tyler-Hall; so I suppose we must thank the British embassy in Tehran and the Border Agency for having safeguarded at least one British job for a British worker.


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