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The space given to Jafar Panahi in Tehran's Museum of Cinema is much larger than his cell in prison.
December 21, 2010 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Jafar Panahi is back in prison. The acclaimed Iranian director, one of the leading figures in the Iranian New Wave, was jailed this week for six years — and banned from filmmaking for 20 years — after his prosecution for allegedly working on a film about the disputed Iranian presidential election of 2009. (The New Republic recently trumpeted his status as "the filmmaker laureate of The Green Movement.") Another filmmaker, Muhammad Rasoulof, received a six-year sentence on similar charges. "This is a catastrophe for Iran's cinema," Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi told the Guardian.

Panahi is no stranger to Iranian prisons. He was arrested in 2009 after attending a memorial for Neda Agha-Soltan, who was killed during the protests following the disputed Iranian elections. He was eventually barred from leaving the country, which meant he could not accept an invitation to appear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. (He has just been invited to that festival again.)

He spent three months in prison earlier this year, after his house was raided by agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. His release was sought by filmmakers from Iran and beyond. He was meant to occupy the only empty chair among the jury members for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival; Village Voice critic J. Joberman reported that Juliette Binoche wept upon hearing that he wouldn't be released in time to attend a May 18 festival screening of Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy. (It looks like the Cannes fest's artistic director Thierry Fremaux, is once again trying to mobilize support for the filmmaker.) His jail time extended, Panahi went on hunger strike to protest his treatment, demanding the opportunity to contact his family, the right to see an attorney, and freedom from prison pending a decision on his case. In a declaration, he wrote, "I swear upon what I believe in, the cinema: I will not cease my hunger strike until my wishes are satisfied." He was released on May 25.

Speaking to the court in his own defense on November 12, the filmmaker said he was being unfairly prosecuted based on the government's review of raw footage from an incomplete project: "The famous creed, 'There is no god, except Allah,' turns into blasphemy if you only say the first part and omit the second part. In the same vein, how can you establish that a crime has been committed by looking at 30 percent of the rushes for a film that has not been edited yet?" He concluded by declaring his love for his country and his concern for future generations of Iranians, noting, "The space given to Jafar Panahi's festival awards in Tehran's Museum of Cinema is much larger than his cell in prison."

(Previously)
posted by Joey Bagels (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a tragedy. Thanks for this.
posted by timshel at 7:00 AM on December 21, 2010


stay classy, theocratic dictatorship.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:12 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


One day a real rain will wash these theocrats away.
posted by storybored at 7:25 AM on December 21, 2010


I must be the only one who read the first link as "The acclaimed Iranian dictator," and wondered when Iran had a) any acclaimed dictators, and b) had begun locking them up (with a moment's hope for democracy).
posted by Xoder at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2010


I must be the only one who read the first link as "The acclaimed Iranian dictator," and wondered when Iran had a) any acclaimed dictators, and b) had begun locking them up (with a moment's hope for democracy).

If you want to familiarize yourself with Jafar Panahi's work then perhaps try The Circle or Crimson Gold. Both are really great.
posted by timshel at 9:43 AM on December 21, 2010


Warning from the CCC: there's a lot of Muslims in those there films.
posted by kozad at 9:46 AM on December 21, 2010


Can't work on film, can't read or write scripts. Not many worse punishments for someone creative. Positive changes can't come soon enough to Iran.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 AM on December 21, 2010


This is really sad. I saw Panahi speak a few years ago after a screening of Offside at the New Zealand film festival. He seemed like a decent and intelligent man. It was obvious there that he knew that he was running a risk in continuing to make his films in Iran.

I wonder why he stayed? He had enough of a reputation that he could have worked abroad.

I can also recommend Offside, it's not a great work of art, but it's very enjoyable, and it sticks a joyous two fingers up at religious opression (short summary: women/girls not allowed to go to football matches; various teenage girls defy the religious police and try to get into to the big World Cup qualifier. Much of the film filmed in secret, during and after the match itself).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:43 PM on December 21, 2010


Seconding "Crimson Gold" - i was surprised at what Tehran looks like now...it's much more modern than the stereotypical view ...
posted by storybored at 10:15 AM on December 29, 2010


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