The Iranian film community has called upon the judiciary to withdraw the sentence against prominent filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who faces six years in prison and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and traveling abroad.
At the opening ceremony of the 29th Iranian Fajr Festival of Film, veteran filmmaker, Massoud Kimiayi was receiving a lifetime achievement award fwhen he said: “I urge the judiciary, with all humility, to reconsider Jafar Panahi’s sentence.”
The news agency Khabar is reporting online that Kimiayi’s statements were greeted with applause and other signs of approval from the audience.
Later in the ceremony, according to Khabar, filmmaker Pouran Derakhshandeh told the audience: “Tonight when Mr. Kimiayi spoke about Jafar Panahi, I was very happy that this issue was brought to the foreground today, because Panahi’s absence is very much felt in Iranian cinema.”
Earlier statements of support from other filmmakers at Iran’s House of Cinema have led to grave controversy between filmmakers and the ministry of culture.
Panahi was arrested twice during the protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election. The second time, he was held for months and only released on bail of $200,000, after he went on a dry hunger strike for more than a week.
He was sentenced following his release. The main charges against him revolve around plans to make a film about the post-election protests.