Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has cancelled his London trip due to an “unduly and complicated” visa application process that included fingerprinting.
Supported by the English National Opera (ENO) Trust, The internationally-acclaimed filmmaker was to stage Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte at London’s Coliseum Theater.
The Daily Telegraph quoted unnamed sources as saying that Kiarostami was not treated respectfully by the British Embassy in Tehran and although the ambassador tried to intervene by that time Kiarostami had decided to no longer pursue the matter.
This is while the award-winning filmmaker has worked freely in Italy and France and has never had an issue with a visa application, the report added.
In a statement, Kiarostami thanked the ENO for their support and understanding concerning the “very complicated but delicate situation.”
“I would like to thank … ENO for the understanding and support they have shown in this. They respected my position and my principles in spite of the obvious fact that it was putting them in a very precarious and disagreeable position,” it said.
ENO artistic director John Berry said the company was hugely disappointed by what had happened. “It is very sad that such a widely admired artist as Abbas will not be coming to London.”
This is while the UK Border Agency rejected the disrespectful treatment of Kiarostami, saying the checking was not something they would apologize for.
“Fingerprint visas mean we can check everyone who wants to come to the UK against immigration and crime databases. These checks are a crucial part of securing the border and they are not something we will apologize for – they have already detected at least 5,000 false identities,” a spokesman said.
Kiarostami’s assistant Elaine Tyler-Hall is now slated to direct the opera, which will be staged from May 29 to July 5, 2009.
Filmmaker, painter, designer and photographer, Kiarostami has received many prestigious international awards, including the 1997 Cannes Golden Palm award and the 2008 Glory to the Filmmaker award of the Venice Film Festival. He has also held a photo exhibition at Beijing’s Imperial City Art Museum. He debuted his Cosi Fan Tutte comic opera buffa at the 2008 Festival of Lyric Art in Aix-en-provence, France.