PIFF slams Iranian filmmaker’s jail sentence

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PIFF slams Iranian filmmaker’s jail sentence

Asia’s top film festival expressed outrage on Friday at a jail sentence imposed on a top Iranian filmmaker who was also banned from making films or leaving his country for 20 years.

“The Pusan International Film Festival is absolutely outraged” by the sentencing of Jafar Panahi, who along with colleague Mohmmad Rasoulof, was sentenced to six years in jail for making a film about the unrest that rocked Iran in June 2009.

A statement from the Korean festival’s organizers also said they “strongly urge the Iranian government to release Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof and lift the ban” on their filmmaking.

“We hope to continue sharing their new works and inspirations, and we are positive that we are speaking for everyone from around the world who loves cinema,” the statement said.

Panahi was arrested at his home on March 1 along with his wife, daughter and several others. Most of those arrested were subsequently released. Panahi was freed in May on a bail of around $200,000.

Soon after his arrest, Iranian officials said he had been detained for making an “antiregime” film about the unrest following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On Monday, Panahi was sentenced to six years in jail and was banned from making films or leaving Iran for 20 years, according to Panahi’s lawyer. Rasoulof, a director, was also reportedly sentenced to six years in jail.

Panahi is known for gritty, socially critical movies such as the “Circle,” which bagged the 2000 Venice Golden Lion award, “Crimson Gold” and “Offside,” winner of a Silver Bear prize at the 2006 Berlin festival.

His arrest was slammed by international filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee and Oliver Stone, and by several young Iranian directors.

The Korean film festival has become a major springboard for Asian talent. This year’s edition in October had 98 world premieres among its 355 scheduled films from 70 countries.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Berlin film festival is also condemning what it calls the “shocking’’ sentencing of Panahi.

Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick said on Wednesday the festival, which had recently invited Panahi to be part of its jury in February, is “concerned and filled with indignation.”

The German government’s human rights commissioner, Markus Loening, also issued a statement calling Panahi’s sentencing “outrageous.”


AFP, AP

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