Iran General NewsIranian filmmaker decries 'mental imprisonment'

Iranian filmmaker decries ‘mental imprisonment’

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AFP: Prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, barred from attending the screening of his short film “The Accordion” at the Venice film festival, on Wednesday decried his “mental imprisonment.”

VENICE, Italy (AFP) — Prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, barred from attending the screening of his short film “The Accordion” at the Venice film festival, on Wednesday decried his “mental imprisonment.”

“Although I have been released from prison now, I am still not free to travel outside of the country,” Panahi, 50, said in a statement read out before the screening of “The Accordion.”

“When a filmmaker is not allowed to make films, he is mentally imprisoned. He may not be confined to a small cell, but he is still wandering in a larger prison,” said Panahi, who was released in late May after nearly three months’ incarceration.

Panahi took the opportunity of thanking the dozens of cinema figures inside and outside Iran who signed petitions on his behalf, including leading directors including Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.

He thanked “the international community of filmmakers for their generous support while I was in prison,” adding: “Although my imprisonment was a bitter experience, it bore sweet fruit for me when it helped me realise that we, the filmmakers and film lovers of the world… are a united community.”

Panahi’s 2000 film “The Circle” criticising the treatment of women in Iran won Venice’s top prize the Golden Lion.

Panahi was shooting a film about the aftermath of Iran’s disputed June 2009 elections when he was arrested — for a second time — in March.

The Iranian filmmaker was also unable to fulfill his role as a member of the jury at the Cannes film festival in May, when his chair was kept symbolically empty.

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