Jafar Panahi

A film made in semi-secrecy by persecuted Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is to be screened at the 64th Cannes Film Festival.

AFP reports that while Panahi has been sentenced by the Islamic Republic to six years in prison and a 20-year ban from filmmaking, the festival will screen his latest film entitled In Film Nist (This is not a film).

In Film Nist shows a day in the life of Panahi, who is currently under house arrest awaiting a court decision. In telling that story, the film also comments on the current state of Iranian cinema.

Last Saturday, the Cannes Film Festival announced that In Film Nist, a film by Panahi and Mojtaba MirTahmasb has reached their hands through unofficial channels and was immediately accepted for screening on May 20.

Panahi, a prominent Iranian filmmaker, was sentenced last December for his support of opposition protests against alleged vote fraud in the 2009 presidential elections.

He was arrested in March of 2010 and was only released on bail after a week-long hunger strike.

Panahi was prohibited from joining the Berlin Festival in February, where he had been selected as a jury member.

In a letter to the Cannes Film Festival, Panahi writes: “The reality of being alive and the dream of keeping cinema alive motivated us to go through the existing limitations in Iranian cinema. Our problems are also all of our assets. Understanding this promising paradox helped us to hold onto our hope and to be able to persevere, since we believe that wherever in the world that we live, we are going to face problems, big or small. But it is our duty not to be defeated and to find solutions.”