September 30th, 2012

Freedom for Jafar Panahi

On October 1st, 2012 in Moscow from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM several prominent Russian film-critics will picket the opening night of The Week of Iranian Film.

The Week of Iranian Film will be held in the prestigious halls of “Art Cinema Theater” ( “Khudozhestvenny”) from October 1th through October 5th. The event is co-sponsored by Russian and Iranian Ministries of Culture. Five films will be shown. The guest of honor is the infamous director Parviz Sheikh Tadi, whose film “The Saturday Hunter”, notorious for its anti-semitism that has outraged even the members of Iranian Parliament.

Meanwhile, the makers of true, powerful, world-renown cinema in Iran are being oppressed, persecuted and forced into exile. From the classic of Iranian cinema, Abbas Kiarostami, whose films are banned from Iranian screens, to actress and independent filmmaker Marzieh Vafamehr, who was was sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in prison. And, finally, Jafar Panahi, one of the most influential filmmakers in Iran, recognized and honored by the international cinematic community with several prestigious awards, was sentenced to six years in prison and a twenty-year ban on making films, writing screenplays, talking to press and traveling abroad. Another independent filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof, was jailed along with Panahi, though with a shorter sentence – “only” one year.

The international film community continues to express its support for the Iranian filmmakers, and its outrage at the lack of creative freedom in the country. As do we, Russian film-critics, journalists and simply movie-going audience.

We will protest on the opening day of the Week of Iranian Film and the Days of Iranian Culture in Moscow, to show our support for the oppressed filmmakers, raise our voices against the culture of the state-sponsored censorship in Iran and worldwide, including Russia, where the pressure has been steadily increasing. As has been widely reported, Panahi has been shortlisted for European Parliament’s Sakharov Award along with Pussy Riot.

On October 1st at 6:30 p.m., MT, at Art Cinema Theater,or Khudozhestvenny, we will picket the opening of the Festival and the arrival of the Iranian Minister of Culture, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini. To avoid police interference, we will be marching as individuals with banners demanding freedom for Jafar Panahi.

Our goal is not to disrupt the celebration of Iranian culture, but to attract the attention of the world to the plight of this prominent filmmaker who, despite the recognition and respect of his audience and peers became a victim of state-sponsored political repressions, as did many others. Organizers of the international film festival 2morrow will support our protest by screening In Film Nist, directed by Jafar Panahi, while he was waiting for an appellate court to make its decision. Last year the film won the Critics Prize at the festival.

Please, consider publishing this press-release as a gesture of support of not only the Iranian filmmakers, but the freedom of creative expression worldwide. The world has to know and remember the fates of those artists who became victims of totalitarian regimes.


Inna Denisova
Anton Dolin
Maria Kuvshinova
Boris Nelepo
Maxim Eidis

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