Read More Atheist Republic On July 11, Jafar Panahi, one of the most influential Iranian filmmakers, was taken into custody. He is the third director to be arrested in less than a week in Iran. He was arrested after he went to the prosecutor’s office with his colleagues and lawyers to investigate why his fellow filmmakers, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-e Ahmad, were detained.
Sixty-two-year-old Panahi has been awarded multiple times for his films, such as the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, for the movie “The Circle” in 2000, and the Golden Bear for the movie “Taxi” at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in 2015. Panahi has also worked with one of Iran’s greatest film directors, the late Abbas Kiarostami.
In 2010, Panahi, along with Rasoulof, was handed down a six-year sentence bya Tehran court, accused of supporting anti-government propaganda. They were also banned from making movies for 20 years and were barred from leaving the country.
The sentence for Rasoulof was reduced to a year after he appealed to the court. But on September 11, 2017, when he returned home after winning the Un Certain Regard award for his film “A Man of Integrity,” his passport was confiscated at the Tehran Airport, making him unable to attend the upcoming film festivals. He couldn’t attend the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, where he won the “Golden Bear” award for the film “There Is No Evil” in 2020. His daughter, Baran Rasoulof, accepted the award on his behalf.
However, the same could not be said for his fellow director. Mr. Panahi was forbidden to leave the country and was confined to house arrest, which inadvertently helped him continue making underground films without a permit or approval from the government.
Panahi’s wife, Tahereh Saeedi, said, “Jafar has some rights as a citizen. There’s due process. To imprison someone, they need to be summoned first. But to imprison someone who is protesting outside the jail raises a lot of questions. This is a kidnapping,”
Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad were arrested on July 8 after posting some statements on social media demanding the Iranian security force members to “lay down their weapons” against civilian protests for the collapse of the Metropol Building in Abadan on May 23, which killed at least 43 people.
The arrest of Panahi was shocking for the Berlin International Film Festival. Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian stated, “The arrest of Jafar Panahi is another violation of freedom of expression and freedom of the arts. We ask the Iranian authorities to release the detained filmmakers immediately,”.
The Cannes film festival “strongly condemns these arrests as well as the wave of repression obviously in progress in Iran against its artists.”
Kino Lorber, an international film distribution company, tweeted, “We are horrified by this news and strongly condemn the Iranian authorities for their arrest of our friend and colleague Mohammad Rasoulof (There Is No Evil, Manuscripts Don’t Burn) and fellow filmmaker Mostafa Al-Ahmad.”
We are horrified by this news and strongly condemn the Iranian authorities for their arrest of our friend and colleague Mohammad Rasoulof (There Is No Evil, Manuscripts Don’t Burn) and fellow filmmaker Mostafa Al-Ahmad. pic.twitter.com/KgHzQ0zOZ4
— Kino Lorber (@KinoLorber) July 8, 2022