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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

U. S. filmmakers call for release of Jafar Panahi, director jailed by his gov't

AMERICA’S LEADING FILMMAKERS CALL FOR RELEASE OF IMPRISONED IRANIAN DIRECTOR JAFAR PANAHI
Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola, Terrence Malick, Steven Soderbergh, the Coen brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Michael Moore, Ang Lee, Robert De Niro and Oliver Stone, among other leading film industry figures, have condemned the detention of Jafar Panahi, the acclaimed director and are Jafar-Panahi-jailed-by-iran.jpgurging the Iranian government to release him. Panahi, director of award-winning films such as he White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and Offside, was arrested at his home March 1a nd has been held since in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. A number of filmmaking luminaries have come to Mr. Panahi’s defense and “condemn his detention and strongly urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Panahi immediately,” according to a new petition. Islamic Republic officials initially charged Mr. Panahi with “unspecified crimes.” They have since reversed themselves, and the charges now allege that he was making a film against the regime, a very serious accusation in Iran.
Mr. Panahi’s films have been banned from screening in Iran for the past ten years and he has been kept from working for the past four years, but he continues to stay in Iran. “Mr. Panahi deeply loves his country,” says Jamsheed Akrami, an Iranian-American film scholar and filmmaker, who helped organize the petition. “Even though he knows he could have opportunities to work freely outside of his homeland, he has repeatedly refused to leave. He would never do anything against the national interests of his country and his people.” Panahi won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Offside (2006), the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Crimson Gold (2003), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000), the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror (1997) and the Cannes Camera d’Or for The White Balloon (1995).
PETITION: Free Jafar Panahi
Jafar Panahi, the internationally acclaimed Iranian director of such award-winning films as The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and Offside, was arrested at his home on March 1st in a raid by plain-clothed security forces. He has been held since then in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. A recent letter from Mr. Panahi’s wife expressed her deep concerns about her husband’s heart condition, and about his having been moved to a smaller cell. Mr. Panahi’s films have been banned from screening in Iran for the past ten years and he has effectively been kept from working for the past four years. Last October, his passport was confiscated and he was banned from leaving the country. Upon his arrest, Islamic Republic officials initially charged Mr. Panahi with “unspecified crimes.” They have since reversed themselves, and the charges are now specifically related to his work as a filmmaker.
We (the undersigned) stand in solidarity with a fellow filmmaker, condemn this detention, and strongly urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Panahi immediately. Iran’s contributions to international cinema have been rightfully heralded, and encouraged those of us outside the country to respect and cherish its people and their stories. Like artists everywhere, Iran’s filmmakers should be celebrated, not censored, repressed, and imprisoned.
Signed:
Paul Thomas Anderson
Joel & Ethan Coen
Francis Ford Coppola
Jonathan Demme
Robert De Niro
Curtis Hanson
Jim Jarmusch
Ang Lee
Richard Linklater
Terrence Malick
Michael Moore
Robert Redford
Martin Scorsese
James Schamus
Paul Schrader
Steven Soderbergh
Steven Spielberg
Oliver Stone
Frederick Wiseman

Petition Organizing Committee: Jamsheed Akrami, Godfrey Cheshire, Jem Cohen, Kent Jones, Anthony Kaufman

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