The director Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Iranian judiciary, who are seeking to enforce a previously handed-down sentence.
Panahi, who has won the top prizes at the Venice and Berlin film festivals, and is the director of films including The Circle, The White Balloon, Crimson Gold, Taxi and This Is Not a Film, is one of three film-makers arrested in Tehran in less than a week.
Panahi was detained on 11 July at the prosecutors’ office, which he visited along with lawyers and colleagues to ask after the wellbeing and whereabouts of fellow Iranian film-makers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Aleahmad, who had been detained three days before.
He and Rasoulof were previously arrested in 2010 for “propaganda against the system”, critiquing the government in their films and at protests. He was sentenced to six years in jail, of which he served two months before being granted a conditional release that was revocable.
He was barred from leaving Iran and making films and has largely been confined to his own home for the past 12 years.
The films Panahi has made over that period attempted to find loopholes in these restrictions.
“Panahi had been sentenced in 2010 to a total of six years in prison,” judiciary spokesperson Massoud Setayeshi told reporters on Tuesday, “and therefore he was entered to the detention centre of Evin to serve his sentence there”.
The arrests have been widely criticised by film bodies internationally.
The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) published an open letter on Friday (15 July) to protest against the wave of arrests among the film-making and artistic communities in Tehran.
The Cannes film festival issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns these arrests as well as the wave of repression obviously in progress in Iran against its artists. The festival calls for the immediate release of Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Aleahmad and Jafar Panahi.”
July 19, 2022 at 06:55PM Catherine Shoard