Nourshafarin Dastouri who was accompanying the Berlinale film festival representative in and Iranian trip has been summoned to questioning by Iranian intelligence services.
It is not clear yet which faction of the intelligence services has summoned Dasturi but a source has told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Ms. Dasturi received a call to present herself to the Iranian authorities in the first week of December.
In the past year the number of dual-nationals arrested in Iran has increased.
Nourshafarin Dastouri is an Iranian-German physician who had travelled to Iran as an interpreter for Anke Lweke, Berlin Film festival representative.
Ms. Dastouri was prevented from exiting the country while travelling back with Lweke on Sunday November 27.
The Berlinale consultant on Iran who had travelled to Iran with Dastouri to acquire a number of films for screening at the 2017 Berlinale, reportedly refused to leave without Dastouri and her luggage was hence subjected to a search and her acquired films were confiscated.
Iranian media have reported that while Lweke was informed that she can leave the country at any time, Dastouri remains under a travel ban.
Berlinale film festival has since confirmed that Lweke is back in Germany but has not elaborated on any more detailed regarding Dastouri possible arrest or any possible charges.
Abbas Jafari Dowladtabadi has told the media in Iran that a total of 50 “underground and illegal” films have been confiscated from Lweke’s suitcases.
In the first week of December Dastouri confirmed that she has gone through the preliminary investigations with judiciary officials. Dastouri reports that she has been treated well by the judiciary but adds that she has not been given any clear answers about her situation.
Iranain films have had significant presence in the Berlin Film Festival in the past. In 1974 Sohrab Akhavan Sales won the Silver Bear award for his Still Life. Two years later Parviz Kimyavi got a similar prize for The Stone Garden.
Berlinale was the forum for the first Iranain banned film, Daryoosh Mehrjui’s The Cycle in 1974. In 2006 Jafar Panahi’s Offside another controversial Iranian film found its way to the screens of Berlin Film Festival and won the Sliver Bear award.
The Berlinale continued its connection with Panahi after the filmmaker was arrested and later banned from travelling abroad following the 2009 election protests in Iran. The festival extended a special invitation to Panahi. Panahi was again selected as a jury member at the film festival in 2011. Under persistent travel ban by Iranian authorities, Panahi was not able to attend the festival for either event. The festival organizers expressed their protest against his treatment by leaving one seat empty among the jurors in 2011.
Berlinale has remained an eager recipient of Panahi’s films. As he was also subjected to a work ban by the judiciary, he continued to make clandestine films without a permit. In 2013 his film Curtain was sneaked out of the country in a cake and in 2015, his film Taxi won the filmmaker the Golden Bear Award at the festival.
Berlin Film Festival has screened many film depicting the protests of 2009 and its aftermath in films such as Rafi Pitts’ The Hunter and Abbas Dormishian’s I Am Not Angry.
Berlinale’s warm reception of Iranian dissident cinema has not been received well by Iranian authorities who have accused the organizers of the festival of supporting “sedition and anti-Revolutionary” elements in Iran.