Iranian Director Jafar Panahi Sentenced to Six Years in Prison, Banned From Making Films

I just felt compelled to share the following news article that I chanced upon, considering how I’ve also reviewed one of his past films “Crimson Gold“. This six-year sanction will definitely mark a huge setback on Panahi’s career and I really wonder how he will manage to bounce back from this hiatus from film. Yet this move would perhaps mark ten giant steps backward for the Iranian film industry. Such moves seem antediluvian at best, and with many countries the world over taking strides in free expression (Singapore included, given its relaxation of political film laws despite the underlying undertones) perhaps Iran will be left in the dust.

Yet on the other end of the spectrum there is also the plausible argument that the film medium need not touch on politics to be successful. With so many armchair vigilantes around operating under the guise of anonymity and recluse given the Internet era, would such films even be necessary anymore to raise public awareness of social or political ills? Going by this line – maybe Panahi really had it coming, straddling too near the grey lines.

So, what next? The film community may be incensed and the human rights groups angered. But ultimately what’s the point, given the inane troglodytism that obviously permeates the incumbent government?

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter | http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/iranian-director-jafar-panahi-sentenced-61918

The helmer was accused of making a film without official government sanction and inciting opposition protests.

Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making films for the next 20 years, the U.K.’s Guardian reported.

Panahi had been accused of inciting opposition protests and making a film without official government sanction. On Monday, the director was convicted of colluding in the gathering and making of propaganda against the regime.

He also was banned from writing scripts, traveling abroad and giving media interviews, his lawyer said, adding that she plans to appeal the conviction.

Muhammad Rasoulof, a filmmaker arrested at the same time as Panahi, was also sentenced to six years in jail Monday.

Panahi drew the ire of Iranian authorities by backing an opposition candidate in last year’s presidential elections. When hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term as president, millions took to the streets in massive protest marches, which were violently broken up by the police.

The Iranian government arrested Panahi in March and he spent three months in prison, during which he went on a hunger strike. The film industry — including director such as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Redford and Martin Scorsese — rallied to his support and called on Tehran to release him.

They did so, on bail of $200,000 a week, in May but Iranian officials prevented Panahi from leaving the country in September to attend the world premiere of his short film The Accordion at the Venice Film Festival.

Earlier this month, Panahi was invited to join the jury of the Berlin International Film Festival for its 2011 edition.

Panahi’s credits include Offside, which won Berlin’s Silver Bear in 2006, and The Circle, which nabbed the Gold Lion in Venice in 2000. He made his debut with The White Balloon, which nabbed the Festival de Cannes’ Camera d’Or in 1995.

 

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