- The pair, known as Blade & Beard, are the subjects of Raving Iran, a documentary that explores the persecution they've faced in their home country.
Two Iranian DJs booked to play at last night's documentary screening of Raving Iran at Village Underground were denied entry to the UK.
Anoosh Raki and Arash Shadram, who DJ as Blade & Beard, said they were "devastated and disappointed" by the decision. "Anoosh's visa was refused by the UK embassy in Geneva," say Unleash, who were promoting the event. A spokesperson for the event says Arash, meanwhile, "was not sent a refusal or acceptance letter" meaning he was also unable to enter the UK. They say Arash's application was submitted with a fast-track service in mid-March, which usually guarantees a response within five working days.
The film they were supposed to be in town to promote, Raving Iran, is a documentary by German filmmaker Susanne Regina Meures about the persecution Anoosh and Arash faced in their home country. A press release calls the film "a chilling insight into the lives of two young men defying the Iranian regime with their love for music."
"We were so hopeful and extremely excited to visit the United Kingdom and to play for Unleash at Village Underground in London," Anoosh and Arash said. "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." This is the first time the pair had applied for a UK visa.
Unleash shone further light on the situation: "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."
Commune, which is hosting a screening of the film on June 3rd at Rio Cinema in Dalston, released the following statement: "All of us at Commune are gutted about the news of the visa issues for Anoosh and Arash and that they won't be making their big London debut at Village Underground. 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."
Last night's event still took place, with Amirali stepping in for Blade & Beard.
Watch a trailer for Raving Iran.