Mike Fleming

Somehow this slipped past us this weekend, but Iran has taken another step toward silencing one of the country’s most important filmmakers after an appeals court upheld a six-year jail sentence on Jafar Panahi, according to various reports that included the government-run newspaper Iran. According to that newspaper: “The charges he was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.” His colleague Mohammad Rasoulof also faced a six-year sentence, and that was knocked down to one year. Panahi’s sentence includes a 20-year ban on making films, and traveling abroad. The convictions against Panahi and Rasoulof prompted an outcry among filmmakers, Amnesty International and international film festivals this year. Panahi’s lawyers reportedly will appeal again, but things are looking dire for an award-winning filmmaker who publicly mourned the deaths of protesters in the presidential elections, and reports say he and Rasoulof reportedly made a film about the aftermath. This is the same government that barbarically sentenced actress Marzieh Vafamehr to 90 lashes and a year in prison for appearing in My Tehran For Sale, and which called out the Cannes Film Festival for “fascist behavior” when it banned director Lars von Trier for his dopey comments about Nazis made at a press conference for Melancholia. Panahi won the Camera d’Or at Cannes for the 1995 film The White Balloon, and the festival pointedly added films by Panahi and Rasoulof to its program in May.