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.”
Iran Protests Berlin Win For Jafar Panahi’s ‘Closed Curtain’; Festival Says It Would “Regret Any Legal Consequences”
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 20-year ban from filmmaking. His crime? Supporting the opposition in Iran’s 2009 elections. Directed by Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. The Palisades/Tartan release opens February 29th in New York and March 2 in Los Angeles.
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.
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:
Toronto: Palisades Tartan Acquires Docu About Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi; Co-Director Stopped From Attending Fest
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 supporting the opposition party in Iran’s 2009 elections. Essentially, he was vilified for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential elections. The deal comes as the film’s co-director with Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, was detained at the Tehran airport on his way to Toronto to attend its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. “This film is of undeniable importance today, especially amid the current Middle Eastern unrest, and we look forward to sharing this powerful and significant film,” said Soumya Sriraman, Palisades Tartan president and CEO Soumya Sriraman said in announcing the rights deal. The 75-minute documentary was shot in secret on an iPhone by Mirtahmasb and was smuggled into France as a last-minute submission to May’s Cannes Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. It chronicles the day-to-day life of Panahi, who also is banned from conducting interviews with foreign press, and shows him talking with Mirtahmasb about his case and opining on the art of filmmaking.