Iran Imprisons, More or Less Permanently Grounds Directors

12/26/2010 Posted by Admin

Iran Imprisons, More or Less Permanently Grounds Directors

Movie News

By our guest blogger, Nick Hanover

In a stunning, heartless move, the Iranian legal system has imprisoned widely hailed director Jafar Panahi for six years, Reuters recently reported. Panahi is a world-renown director who had been invited to serve on the panel at Cannes this year and Berlinale in 201, and in the past has won such prestigious awards as the Silver Bear in Berlin and the Golden Lion in Venice.  Since news of his imprisonment spread, support has been immediate with Cannes throwing their weight behind another petition (there was also one earlier this year) for Panahi's release and condemnation of Iran from the UN Human Rights Council. Also convicted was fellow Iranian director Mohammed Rassoulov.

Panahi is most notably the director of "Offside," Golden Lion winner "The Circle" and Camera d'Or winner "The White Balloon," and his sentencing comes as a repercussion to his involvement in the 2009 protests in Iran dubbed the "Green Revolution." Like many others in Iran, Panahi supported opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi and took to the streets after the election results appeared to be fraudulent. When Panahi was arrested in March, he made news for his 88 day hunger strike. The specific charges against Panahi and Rassoulov concern "acting and propaganda against the system."

Though he is fortunate enough to have the support of major directors and actors across the globe, Panahi's sentencing is severe. On top of the six year prison sentence, which is he supposed to serve in the infamous Evin prison, Panahi is also banned from making movies or traveling abroad for the next 20 years, effectively grounding the director and impeding him from moving forward with his career after his sentence. Panahi is also banned from speaking to local or foreign media, though his son offered a heartbreaking account of the sentencing to Radio Free Europe. It's difficult to discern what effect, if any, pressure from the UN and the film industry will have on Panahi's sentencing.

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