A portion of the memoirs of Seyyed Hamid Shahangian

Art Foundation of the Underprivileged

Selected by: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


But the story of the formation of "Art Foundation of the Underprivileged". A few months had passed since the victory of the revolution. One day, I was passing by Shahabad Street, the distance between the current Majlis building and Mokhbar al-Douleh Square[1]. My eyes fell on the large and painted picture of a half-naked woman on the door of a cinema. I think it was called "Cinema Europe". We had seen enough of these scenes, it had become normal for us and no longer attracted attention. Our eyes used to miss such scenes. We never cared what was playing in the cinema, but this time I stopped and my attention was drawn to that picture. I said to myself, hasn't there been a revolution in this country? What are these scenes in our cinemas? I was thinking that someone should finally think of fixing this situation. It's like art has no owner in our country. Why doesn't anyone get bitten by fleas and... It seemed to me that the forces of the revolution should not wait for someone else to come and correct this situation. Everyone should have done whatever they could in that situation. In those circumstances, one could not think of anything else. By the time we came to start a system and create a mechanism, the work was over. Mr. Mehdi Kalhor[2] was responsible in the Ministry of Culture. I was friends with him. I called him and expressed my complaints and concerns. After all, the Ministry of Culture was the main person responsible for dealing with such issues.

I shared this concern with two of my friends; Ali Zandi and Hamid Yeganeh. We consulted together and thought about what we could do. We came to the conclusion that we should form a group and start organizing cinemas. The name of this group was Art Foundation of the Underprivileged. The group had nothing to do with Mustafafan Foundation; although after some time the work of our group increased and expanded so much that we were doing the work of the foundation at the same time! The group was formed and we were looking for a place for the group's office.

Ali Zandi worked in the committee. He was a bit adventurous. He investigated and found that the Farhang cinema belongs to a group of tyrants who fled the country. Shahr Farang and Shahr Qaseh[3] were two cinemas back to back. The city of Qasa was smaller and located in the basement, and the city of Farang was larger and located above. Under the cinema hall of Farang city, there was a warehouse and an office belonging to a Jew, which was also a repository of antiques.

Ali Zandi told me about these cinemas. He said that the owner of these cinemas fled the country and one of the employees of the cinema named "Dalo" who says he is the director of the cinema, is taking over the cinemas. In short, he went and confiscated that collection without any order. In this way, the four-story and wide building and two cinemas along with a sea of antiques that were there were provided to us. We assembled the antiques and handed them over to the Art Foundation of the Underprivileged.

Ali Zandi was one of the most active children of the revolution. He did not work with our hymn group, but he had been in the business of duplicating and distributing Dr. Shariati's tapes for years. He was not well educated and did not study more than four grades, but he was very smart. He was such a manager and professional that after seven or eight months, he became the owner of Art Foundation of the Underprivileged with 114 movie theaters. One by one, he identified and confiscated cinemas without owners or owned by Taghoutis. For this, he had created a task force of the children of the committee. Qasem Dehghan[4] was in charge of the task force. I was friends with him. Qasim was a sniper before the revolution and had a military spirit. Before the revolution, he had also won the "Sento" shooting prize. In short, with the task force they had set up, they confiscated a large number of cinemas and gave them to the Mustafein Art Foundation. This work was not limited to Tehran, we were also working in the cities.

After a short time, we came to the conclusion that these theaters wanted fodder. The brokers, who brought movies, realized that the work of the cinemas was now in the hands of the foundation; So they used to come there. We had created facilities in the foundation. Our job was to review the films and if necessary, we would censor them. Then, we would divide the films between cinemas. We had the first screening, the second screening and the city screening.

We had formed a review group. A number of seminary personals were present in this group. I think we had invited people from the cultural department of Jihad. We were there too. We were a group of seven or eight people who, after watching the movies, announced where they were manually modified and censored. After applying the reforms, we would give permission for the screening. In short, we had become the vice president of cinema affairs in the country. We had launched a collection system and we knew what we were doing.

We did not limit ourselves to cinema and film screenings. Before the revolution, if you went to the cinema, the signs and walls were full of announcements and posters of upcoming movies; But after our work, every movie became a cultural exhibition. We had six or seven designers in the Art Foundation of the Underprivileged; How many painters did we have? We also had a photographer. The same song group that we had formed since our activities in Hosseiniyeh Irshad worked in the foundation. Instead of getting paid, they were doing revolutionary activities.

Our group painted the first mural after the revolution. The old people remember that on Martyr Beheshti Street[5], a large picture of the Imam was painted on one of the walls, the background of which was Quds, and the Imam was pointing to Quds. This painting was the work of our painter children. Ahad Yari was one of these persons and also the leader of their group. These were a group of three people whose work was painting and drawing. I don't remember the names of the other two people, but I remember that one of them was from Afghanistan. Before the picture of Imam [Khomeini] appeared on that wall, they had painted a half-naked picture of a lady who was promoting "Kanadadrai"[6]. We thought of erasing that image and drawing something else in its place. We sat and thought and the idea of the image of Imam came to our mind. After that, painting on the walls became popular.

We also had singing and music classes at the foundation. While I was there, I made some works. The staffs of the Hosseinieh Irshad hymn group used to come, practice and sing. Sometimes the group went to the radio. They recorded it there and it was broadcast on TV. Some hymns were practiced by themselves and sung in ceremonies and programs. For two or three years, wherever a ceremony was held, from Friday prayers to the opening of the Assembly of Experts and the Islamic Council, the anniversary of 17th of Shahrivar (8th of Septembe), the anniversary of 13th of Aban, Labor Day and Teacher's Day; It was only this group that was regularly invited here and there to perform. Sometimes you saw that they have two or three programs a day. The comrades went and read. Here again the management was with me.

The entire foundation had three managers. We had worked in division. I managed a part of all kinds of artistic works such as painting, graphics, music, etc.; One part with Hamid Yeganeh and another part with Ali Zandi. All that cinema naturally had its own conflicts. Their management, film distribution, accounts and books, preventing theft, eliminating corruption, etc., all work. It was very hard work. We were completely involved during the day.[7]


[1] Current independence.

[2] Mehdi Shahid Kalhori, known as Kalhor, was born in 1949 in Tehran. He was the son of Ayatollah Mirza Abdul Ali Shahid Kalhor, known as Tehrani and the brother of late Ayatollah Agha Mojtabi Tehrani. Since 1979, Kalhor has held many responsibilities in the field of culture and art. For some time, he was the artistic advisor of the Ministry of Education and for some time he was the Deputy Minister and Deputy Minister of Culture and Higher Education. He was also the first deputy director of the Ministry of Guidance after the revolution. In 1996, he became an advisor to the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and then an advisor to the head of the Broadcasting Organization. He was also the head of Sed and Radio Music Center for a period in the 70s.

[3] These two attached cinemas were destroyed by fire in 1997. In 2016, "Azadi Cinema" was built in the old place of these two cinemas.

[4] Martyr Qasim Dehghan Sangistanian was born in 1947 in Hamadan. He goes to the army at the end of 1976. In the incident of 17 September 1978, together with two of his friends, they ran away with guns and hid. But Savak finds the hiding place and gets involved with them. During this conflict, one of his companions named Mohammad Mohammadi Khalis was martyred. Ali Ghafouri Sabzevari was shot in the head and became a veteran. Qasim Dehghan was also shot in both legs and arrested. These two are tortured for months and even sentenced to death. But with the victory of the revolution, they are freed. The movie "Raining Blood" directed by Amir Qavidel is based on this story. After the revolution, Dehghan first joined the committee and then went to the army and joined the fighters of the 27th brigade of Muhammad Rasoolullah. He participated in many operations and assumed important responsibilities. After the end of the war, along with Seyed Morteza Avini, he went to Feka region to investigate and discover the martyrs. Dehghan was martyred by a mine explosion on September 17, 2014 while recreating a scene in the movie "A Piece of Heaven".

[5] Former Abbasabad.

[6] Canada dry is a brand of non-alcoholic soft drink.

[7]Source: Rashidi, Ruhollah, Rise!; Oral Memoirs  of Seyyed Hamid Shahangian, Tehran, Rahyar, 2017, p. 135.

Number of Visits: 757


Full Name:

Heads of National Front Meet Imam

On ninth of Aban, 1357 (October 31, 1978), misters Dr. Karim Sanjabi, Haj Manian and Mahdian came to Paris from Tehran to meet the Imam. Dr. Banisadr, Mr. Salamatian and Haj Ahmad [Imam's son] was also present in their first meeting with the Imam. After greetings, Mr. Sanjabi who had been sitting next to the imam, started talking quietly - almost whispering; suddenly, the imam pulled their heads back and said:

Secret campaigns

Sedigheh Amir Shahkarami the narrator: we were two sisters and three brothers who started secret campaigns against the regime during the Shah and in order not to be arrested by SAVAK (secret police), we had a covert life during the years 52 and 53 (1973 and 1974). At first, Mehdi and Mohammad Amir Shahkarami were the members of the Mujahedin Organization. But after a while, they realized the deviation of their beliefs, ...

Establishment of Islamic Revolution Central Committed as narrated by Alviri

At this time (Bahman of 1357 – February 1979), grouplets such as Peoples Fedai Guerrillas and Mojahedin Khalq Organization misused the mayhem of the country, storing a large quantity of weapons in their team house. Even when the Imam ordered the people to hand over the weapons to the mosques, instead of handing over their weapons to the mosques, these grouplets built a headquarters and took the peoples weapons and stored them.
A cut from memoirs of Iran Torabi

Preparation of Soosangerd Hospital

We arrived in Soosangard around noon. It was the 21st day of Mehr [1359] (October 13, 1980). The situation of the city was almost the same as Ahvaz, and even worse. There was dirt and destruction everywhere. The city had almost been deserted. As Ahvaz Red Crescent had said, the city was still within reach of the enemy and no place was safe from their artillery and mortar fire. We rushed to the city hospital.