Iranian DJ duo Blade & Beard, the subjects of the recent Raving Iran documentary that focuses on overcoming obstacles of the country's oppressive government to throw raves in the desert, were denied entry to the UK.
Consisting of Anoosh Raki and Arash Shadram, Blade & Beard were on their way to perform at the film’s launch at Village Underground.
Upset by the circumstance, the duo shared their sentiment with RA: "We were so hopeful and extremely excited to visit the United Kingdom and to play for Unleash at Village Underground in London. We left Iran in the hopes to follow our path as artists, and to finally freely play around the globe. It's a shame that politics get in the way of art, and freedom, even in such a liberal and democratic country as Great Britain. We would like to apologise for our absence and that we cannot share the passion we have fought for with you this evening, but we will continue following our dreams and hope that one day, in the near future we can visit the UK and showcase our music in such a diverse and wonderful city."
The event's promotion company Unleash revealed insight into the situation, saying that "Anoosh's visa was refused by the UK embassy in Geneva," and that Arash "was not sent a refusal or acceptance letter," even though he had applied using an express service.
Unleash went further to express what exactly took place: "Despite submitting all the necessary documents and adhering to all visa application requirements, Anoosh received a letter from the UK Visas & Immigration team stating that his visa was refused because the authorities were 'not satisfied that you [Anoosh] are a genuine visitor and will leave the UK at the end of your visit.' Arash did not receive any response from the embassy; despite our numerous attempts to contact the embassy via telephone, email and post, we still have not received an official rejection letter nor an explanation. We express our sincere condolences to Anoosh and Arash and apologise to all of you that were as excited as we were to welcome them for their UK debut."
As the film will head to Dalston on June 3, the event’s host Commune also released a statement on the film’s importance: "Continuing to promote the film in the UK is incredibly important, not only to spread their incredible story, but to help alter the perspective we're fed in the West of Middle Eastern youth culture—there are lots of young people passionate about dance music in Iran. Hopefully this film can help to weaken the repressive regime they have to suffer."
Earlier this year Mixmag published a list of Iranian artists that are major players in the dance music industry. Read about them here.
Watch the trailer for Raving Iran below.
Harrison is Mixmag's East Coast Editor. Follow him on Twitter here