Iranian director Jafar Panahi, imprisoned by his country’s ultra-conservative regime, sent a message defying Iranian censorship, which was revealed at the Venice Film Festival this Saturday (3/9).
One of the most awarded Iranian directors, who has already won the Golden Lion of Venice with “The Circle” (2009), Panahi is attending this year’s festival with his new film, “No Bears”, despite being in prison since last month. , sentenced to six years in prison for “anti-government propaganda”. The propaganda consists of social-themed films and the director’s support for the 2009 protests against the re-election of the ultra-conservative Mahmud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic. Detained for two months in 2010, he had already spent 12 years under house arrest and had been banned from shooting for 25 years.
Despite the ruling, he managed to send the letter from his prison cell, which festival director Alberto Barbara read at the beginning of a festival panel entitled “Directors under attack: take stock, act”.
“We are directors, for us to live is to create,” wrote Panahi. “The work we create is not commissioned [portanto] some of our governments see us as criminals … others [cineastas] they were banned from making films, others were forced into exile or reduced to isolation. Yet the hope of creating again is a reason for existence. “
Panahi was the third Iranian director to be arrested in the country in August. In addition to him, Mohammad Rasoulof, who won the Berlin Golden Bear with “There’s No Evil” (2020), and Mostafa Aleahmad (“Poosteh”), were also locked up in prison, amidst a wave of repression of artists from all over the world. Village. Panahi was arrested after protesting the arrests of Rasoulof and Aleahmad.
“No Evil” producer Kaveh Farnam told the Venice panel that the Iranian government is carrying out “a major attack on Iranian independent cinema, directors and anything that does not share 100% the same ideology as the government.”
Making films in Iran, Farnam said, “is not a right, it’s a privilege. The government grants the privilege to those who advertise or present another image. [positiva] of the country “.
He thanked the international community for “making noise” in support of Iranian directors, but warned that the crackdown “is not over yet” and that other directors are at risk.
In addition to the situation in Iran, the jury discussed the persecution of filmmakers in other countries, highlighting the repression in Turkey, Egypt and Myanmar. One of the most absurd cases mentioned was that of the Turkish director Cidgem Mater, who was arrested not for making a film, but “for thinking about making a film” on a forbidden subject.
Mater also sent a letter to Venice, written from his prison cell, thanking the international film community for their support.
Vanja Kalurdjercic, director of the Rotterdam International Film Festival and one of the founders of the International Commission of Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR), said the global film community needs to “sound a very strong alarm” about the “dramatic increase” in censorship. , imprisonment and abuse of filmmakers around the world.
So far, the ICFR has raised € 420,000 to help filmmakers in Ukraine and has managed to help hundreds of members of the Afghan film industry escape the country safely after the new rise of the Taliban.
Camila Luna is a writer at Gossipify, where she covers the latest movies and television series. With a passion for all things entertainment, Camila brings her unique perspective to her writing and offers readers an inside look at the industry. Camila is a graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a degree in English and is also a avid movie watcher.