Jafar Panahi is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. The only problem is that he lives in Iran. Now, the government has sentenced him to six in prison and banned him from leaving the country or any involvement in film for at least 20 years, effectively killing the career and the excellent quality artistic creations he might have created.
Panahi was arrested at a Tehran cemetery for mourning the death of a pro-democracy proponent on charges of creating propaganda against the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi will held at the notorious Evin Prison in Iran, where rape and other tortures are commonplace. Even photographing the prison is a serious crime in Iran. Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died during interrogation after arrest for simply taking some pictures of the prison complex. Iranian government officials claimed that she experienced a stroke. But, an autopsy proved rape, torture and a skull fracture at the hands of Iranian police.
The world film community is beginning to voice condemnation at the Iranian government over the prison sentence for Panahi. He has won many film festival awards including awards at Cannes for excellent films such as THE WOUNDED HEAD(1988), KISH(1991), THE FRIEND(1992), THE EXAM(1992), THE WHITE BALLOON(1995), ARDEKOUL(1997), THE MIRROR(1997), THE CIRCLE(2000), CRIMSON GOLD(2003) and OFFSIDE(2006).
In Iran, many want to be part of the modern world, and intellectuals and artists often find their creations greatly stifled by the repressive religious dominated government. The world film community is only likely to create a growing anger over this latest example of repression, where religious conservatives like Ahmadinejad only hold on to power in Iran through brutal repression of democracy and Western styled freedoms.