What a difference a little bit of time and a new regime make… or do they? Earlier this year, Iran was mulling litigation over how it was portrayed in Ben Affleck’s Academy Award winner Argo, and it boycotted the 2012 Oscars in protest over the Innocence Of Muslims video that was made in the U.S. Now that a new government led by perceived political moderate Hassan Rouhani is in place, the Argo lawsuit has lost steam and Iran has entered Asghar Farhadi’s The Past as its Oscar candidate for 2013. Those and other recent moves had led some to wonder if a new era of tolerance for freedom of expression was afoot. But, in just the past day, it’s emerged that Manuscripts Don’t Burn director Mohammad Rasoulof had his passport confiscated on a recent return home to Iran, and is still blocked from leaving the country.
Does that mean that despite the possible thaw of relations between Iran and the rest of the free world, tolerance for freedom of expression at home hasn’t really budged? Folks I’ve spoken with agree that Iran’s reopening of the House of Cinema film guild in September, after a 20-month closure, gave rise to hope that banned filmmakers like Jafar Panahi might see their sentences eased. At the time, Deputy Culture Minister Hojatollah Ayoubi said, “When a cultural issue — like the one about the House of Cinema — becomes a political one, that is (because) the situation was not managed properly.” That makes this latest turn with Rasoulof even more “paradoxical” as one person put it to me today.
The submission of Farhadi’s The Past to the Oscar race even seemed to push against typical conservative mores. The choice wasn’t entirely unexpected — Farhadi’s A Separation won the Foreign Language prize in 2011 — but the movie was made in France with French coin and deals with moral issues and intimate relationships that might have once run afoul of state authorities. Instead, it reportedly rubbed some conservatives the wrong way, but only because they felt it wasn’t Iranian enough. Read More »
Jafar Panahi was among the 276 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on June 28. The award-winning director of such films as The White Balloon, The Circle, … Read More »
Kambozia Partovi, the co-director and co-star of banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi‘s Closed Curtain was in Berlin earlier this month to accept a Best Script Silver Bear on Panahi’s behalf. That will be his last international appearance with the film, for now. I’ve confirmed that Partovi and Closed Curtain actress Maryam Moghadam have both had their passports confiscated by the Iranian authorities, meaning they will be unable to travel with the movie as it makes the festival rounds. It is scheduled for closing night duties at the Hong Kong Film Festival on April 2 and has been invited elsewhere. I understand that it will continue to travel, even if those involved in making it can’t be present in support, and that the film has sold in a number of territories. Panahi is under a 20-year filmmmaking ban for “propaganda against the state.” He continues to make movies, however, including 2011′s This Is Not A Film and this year’s Closed Curtain. Read More »
Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi won the Best Script Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday for his competition entry Closed Curtain. Since then, Iran has complained to fest organizers over the award, Iran’s Student News Agency reported, according to Reuters. The head of the country’s national cinema body, Javad Shamaqdari, said Berlin officials “should amend their behavior” and noted, “Everyone knows that a license is needed to make films in our country and send them abroad, but there are a small number who make films and send them out without a license. This is an offense… but so far the Islamic Republic has been patient with such behavior.” In a statement to Deadline, the festival said: “We would very much regret if the the screening of Pardé (Closed Curtain) would have any legal consequences for the filmmakers.”
Related: Jafar Panahi Faces Six-Year Stretch After Sentence Upheld Read More »
A year into a 20-year filmmaking ban in his native Iran, Jafar Panahi still managed to direct the 2011 documentary This Is Not A Film (which was smuggled to the Cannes Film Festival on a flash drive). The director, who is under house arrest in Iran, has evidently been behind the camera again as his Closed Curtain has just been added to the lineup for the 63rd Berlin Film Festival. Berlin provided few details about the film other than it’s co-directed by Border Café helmer Kambozia Partovi – who co-wrote Panahi’s 2000 Venice winner The Circle – and that both directors play roles in the movie, along with other castmembers. Joining that world premiere in competition will be the next film from No Man’s Land director Danis Tanovic along with Steven Soderbergh‘s Side Effects with Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum and Fredrik Bond’s feature debut The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman starring Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger and Rupert Grint. Berlin runs from February 7-17 this year. Click over for the full list of new additions: Read More »
Angry Berlusconi says “There Will Be Consequences”
A day after receiving a jail sentence for tax fraud, Italian media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he feels “obliged” to stay in politics to “reform the justice system so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to other citizens”. He’s expected to appeal his conviction and four-year prison sentence for inflating the price of distribution rights bought by his Mediaset group to avoid paying taxes. He’s also barred from holding office for five years. He says his court ordeal was “intolerable judicial harassment” by left-leaning judges in Milan. “There will be consequences,” he said in an interview today on TG5, one of the TV channels owned by his conglomerate Mediaset.
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Iran may pull an entry from the Venice Film Festival over oil sanctions imposed by the European Union, a government official said over the weekend. “We naturally are thinking over a plan to boycott the festival this year,” … Read More »
Shot partially on an iPhone and with a digital camera and smuggled into France in a cake for last-minute submission to Cannes last year, this documentary observes the daily existence of Iranian director Jafar Panahi — under house arrest in Tehran while he appealed a six-year prison sentence and a … Read More »
Hollywood Rallies Against Iran’s Draconian Verdicts Against Filmmakers And Stars
Marzieh Vafamehr, the Iranian actress who was sentenced to a year in prison and 90 lashes for appearing in the government-banned film My Tehran For Sale, has been released from prison, according to Amnesty International. According to the human rights organization, her sentence was reduced to three months and her lashing sentence was overturned; she was released Monday. The movie, an Australian production that wasn’t supposed to be seen in Iran but hit the black market, stars Vafamehr as an actress who is banned from working onstage by Iranian authorities. It shows Vafamehr without a headscarf, and other Iranian young people going to underground raves, smoking hashish and having sex before marriage. Read More »
Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Faces Six-Year Stretch
Iranian Actress Faces Flogging Over Film
In September 2011, the Iranian government arrested six independent filmmakers for allegedly working with the BBC, on charges including espionage and treason. Along with the ongoing
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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 … Read More »
The hard-line Iranian government continues to be the bane of filmmakers there, and the Toronto Film Festival is speaking out. Deadline has told you how the repressive legal system gave six-year prison sentences to directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof for a murky charge of “propaganda against the state,” for publicly mourning the deaths of protesters killed following the presidential elections. Now, six filmmakers have been arrested and charged with espionage for working with the BBC. One of the directors, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, co-directed with Panahi This Is Not a Film, a documentary about Panahi’s plight that was shown during the recent festival. Here is the festival’s protest release: Read More »
Palisades Tartan Films has acquired U.S. and UK rights to This Is Not A Film, whose subject is Iranian director Jafar Panahi, under house arrest in his native country after being jailed and banned from filmmaking for 20 years for … Read More »
In another Twilight Zone-like twist to Lars von Trier’s bizarre Cannes experience, the Iranian Vice Minister of Culture Javad Shamaqdari sent a letter slamming the festival for “fascist behavior” in declaring the Danish Melancholia director persona non grata after his attempts to be funny in declaring himself a Nazi and saying that he sympathized with Hitler. Von Trier hasn’t had many come to his defense since issuing those dopey comments, but it is odd to get a statement of support from the same government that gave harsh prison sentences and banishment from filmmaking to two of its most important directors, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. Both had new films added to Cannes as a show of solidarity. Of course, von Trier issued another statement, which doesn’t really clear up anything: Read More »
Cannes Festival Adds Films By Persecuted Iranian Filmmakers
The French news agency AFP is reporting that convicted Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof may make an appearance at the … Read More »
In a important show of solidarity, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has added to its program films directed by Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, the Iranian filmmakers who each drew six-year prison sentences (with a 20-year filmmaking banishment for Panahi) by a strict Tehran regime that charged them with “propaganda against the state.” Essentially, the men were vilified for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential election. Panahi, who won Camera d’Or honors at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival for his first film, The White Balloon, and the Golden Lion in 2000 for The Circle, was arrested again in February 2010, and sent to prison in Tehran on the dubious charge of collusion and propaganda. Filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Paul Haggis and Sean Penn, and numerous festivals and humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, have decried the harsh sentences that have cast a chill on all Iranian filmmakers.
For its part, festival organizers reveal they just got the films that were made in “semi-clandestine” conditions. Read More »
Participant Media has set the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner Circumstance to be distributed domestically by Roadside Attractions. Participant acquired the Maryam Keshavarz-directed drama during the festival, and now the film is on track to be distributed theatrically … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In its second Sundance deal today, Participant Media has acquired North American rights to Circumstance, a tale of forbidden love in Iran, written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz. Deal is worth mid to high six figures. The picture, which … Read More »
UPDATE: Martin Scorsese, who spoke out in support of Jafar Panahi both when he was first arrested and right after he was convicted, has added his support to the petition being circulated by Amnesty International. His participation … Read More »