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 »
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:
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:
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.