Minority Rights Group International invites independent documentary filmmakers to tender for a documentary film of festival/broadcast quality on human rights in Iran. The film would ideally focus on one aspect of the human rights situation, such as a particular issue or a region of Iran. Films that focus or draw on themes surrounding women’s rights, minority rights, or human rights defenders will be considered favourably.

To a brief decided in collaboration with MRG, you will produce, direct, shoot and edit a documentary of festival and mainstream broadcast quality, of about 20-25 minutes in length, with a 3-min trailer/summary version.

We are looking for a filmmaker to bring their unique combination of journalistic news-gathering and cinematic eye to produce a hard-hitting documentary and bring a new and realistic perspective to a human rights issue in Iran. For this, your own creative input will be highly important.


For decades, civilians in Iran have suffered extensive abuses of human rights and breaches of international law. Minorities, women and human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable.

Minority communities in Iran include Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baha’i, Baluchis, Christians, Jews, Kurds, Sabean-Mandaeans, Sufis, Yarsanis and Zoroastrians. Ethnic and religious minorities make up over 40 per cent of the Iranian population but they are systematically excluded from senior public office and their associations are denied freedom of association and expression. Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities are vilified, arrested and even executed on account of their beliefs or identity. Minorities are frequently subjected to hate speech and police intimidation, and routinely denied fundamental rights and opportunities.

Women in Iran face widespread discrimination under law and in practice. Women remain subject to limited political involvement and discriminatory laws on civil, political and ESC issues including access to divorce, employment, equal inheritance, politics and in the area of criminal law. National family policies further promote gendered ideals of early marriage, repeated childbearing, fewer divorces, and greater compliance to “traditional” roles of women as housewives and men as breadwinners. Women and girls in Iran remain inadequately protected against sexual and other gender-based violence, including early and forced marriage.

As in other parts of the world, human rights defenders in Iran are the best placed to collect and provide information about human rights abuses, especially in the most remote and difficult-to-access areas. However, their work is undermined by limited capacity and continuous government repression, manifested in threats, arrests and subsequent executions. Those who report government abuses or are critical of the government/state are particularly at risk of persecution.

In order to assist in the preparatory research, we suggest the following sources:

Brief outline and purpose of the film:

Ideally, the filmmaker will choose a central character or group who will help an international audience to understand the human rights environment in Iran and the chosen topic of focus. However, we would like to give the film-maker considerable artistic freedom in identifying the story-line and dramatic arc of the film. MRG needs the film to achieve certain objectives:

  • In addition to highlighting abuses in Iran, the film should provide a positive perspective on human rights progression or civil society movements to progress it.
  • The film should provide the audience with a basic understanding of the current situation of the vulnerable communities affected by the chosen film topic.
  • The film should support a message of the realities of human rights situation in Iran, and should be conscious not to feed into false stereotypes or narratives surrounding the country’s human rights issues.

We leave it up to the film-maker to find the right balance between the general story and specific situations, as well as which particular issue they would wish to focus on.

MRG has a strong commitment to expose how women often face discrimination and would appreciate the film’s central character, or one of the central characters, therefore being a woman.

The filmmakers may work closely with civil society organisations with whom MRG is working in Iran, and much of the footage will be shot on the ground in Iran.

The language of the film should be English, and where this is not achievable for specific parts of the film, English subtitles should be provided.

Owing to the nature of the subject and context within which the filmmakers will be working, including security concerns for those appearing in the film and filmmakers, MRG will apply the following criteria when short listing submissions:


At least one member of the team must have fluent Farsi and English

Experience of film making in difficult environments (conflict, transition, restricted civil space etc.), preferably in Iran

Experience of working with grass roots NGOs, activists or civilians

Sensitivity to security concerns of both film crew and those appearing in the film


In depth knowledge of Iran

Experience working with vulnerable communities


Approximately EUR 17,500 is available for the film. This includes the cost of translation.

To apply:

Please send the following by email to mays.al-juboori@mrgmail.org and miriam.puttick@mrgmail.org:

  1. An outline of your approach to the story, which should be around 500 – 800 words and include: any background you think might inform the story (three key points of what makes this newsworthy), issues you think should be covered or might arise for vulnerable communities in the region, and how the story might be filmed and framed in terms of narrative, style and approach.
  2. Your Filmmaker’s CV
  3. A proposed budget for the project to include pre-production, production and post-production, which includes all costs (travel, per diem etc). Also a schedule covering days needed to film for this length as well as an editing schedule.
  4. Links to your film work online.


The film is being produced as part of MRG’s programme to strengthen human rights defenders organisations working with vulnerable civilians in Iraq and Iran, which is funded by the European Union. This content is the sole responsibility of MRG and can under no circumstances be seen as reflecting the position of the EU.

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