Javad Shamaghdari

Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Guidance has denounced Jafar Panahi’s recent filmmaking activities and criticized the awarding of the Silver Bear to his film at the Berlin Film Festival.

Javad Shamaghdari, the ministry’s film deputy, said on Monday February 18: “Any film that is being sent outside the country to be screened in any manner needs to obtain a permit from the ministry.” He said it’s unfortunate that these screenings are taking place without the required permit and they must treated as offences.

He said Islamic Republic authorities have remained flexible in this regard but added that “such illegal behaviours are being recorded, and someone may have to be accountable for them.”

Jafar Panahi’s latest film, “Closed Curtain”, was screened this month at the 63rd Berlinale and won the Silver Bear for best screenplay. The film was made and released without any permits from the Ministry of Culture and Guidance.

In fact, the Iranian judiciary has banned Panahi from making films for 20 years and sentenced him to six years in prison. He is basically under house arrest in Iran and barred from leaving the country.

Shamaghdari said the ministry intends to communicate its objections to the Berlin Film Festival, and as soon as possible he intends to screen Panahi’s film to a group of film experts to get a better sense of the “qualitative weight” of Berlinale’s Silver Bear.

Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Guidance has become very strict with the filmmaking community and emphasizes that it will not support any films that try to portray Iranian society in a negative light.