Film director Jafar Panahi arrested


1. Film director in Iran abducted: Arrested for wearing green scarf
Published in German daily “Frankfurter Rundschau” on 2 March 2010
Source (German):

Jafar Panahi (picture: dpa)

After the Iranian director Jafar Panahi had previously been barred from exiting Iran to attend a panel at the Berlin Film Festival “Berlinale”, he was now arrested in Tehran Monday night. The surrounding circumstances of his arrest reveal quite a lot about the general situation in Iran: According to information provided to the reformist internet newspaper Rahe Sabz by Panahi’s son Panah Panahi, a private gathering was disrupted by several plainclothes foces (“lebas shakhsi”).

The police officers, when informed about the incident via an emergency call, claimed that they were not in charge, since it was an operation of the Intelligence Service. During the five-hour-raid of the house, documents and computers were confiscated. Panahi, his wife, his daughter as well as 15 guests are said to have been taken to an undisclosed location.

Reportedly, the filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi and the director Mohammad Rasoulof are said to be among the arrested.

While the prosecutor in charge, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, claimed that the incident had no political background, other sources report that Panahi’s arrest was related to a planned film project about last year’s unrest. Since official media ignore those events, Iranian filmmakers had been protesting against the tightening censorship and the violent crackdown on protesters by publishing videoclips on youtube, and boycotting major film festivals. Even during the time of the electoral campaign many film directors had supported opposition leader Moussavi with electoral spots.

Jaafar Panahi is one of those critical filmmakers who, while contributing to the good reputation of the Iranian cinema on the international scene, are subjected to censorship in their own country. His multiply awarded films “The Circle”, “Crimson Gold”, and “Offside” were not shown in Iran either not at all, or were limited to special viewings.

49-year-old Panahi, who has never made a secret of his resentment toward Ahmadinejad, had publicly expressed his solidarity with the protest movement and the detained young Iranians by wearing a green scarf during the Montreal Film Festival in September 2009. Already in July, Panahi had been arrested when he, together with Mohammadi and another colleague, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, attended a service for the victims of the protest rallies at Behesht-e Zahra, the cemetery of martyrs.

Since such short-term arrests are part of the range of suitable intimidation tactics – especially in the run-up to new announced protests on occasion of the Persian New Year in March – it is to be expected that Panahi will soon be released.


2. The German public radio channel “Deutschlandradio” has published a short news item on its website as well:

Iran: Arrested filmmaker Panahi allegedly committed a crime
The renowned Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has been arrested in Tehran. A prosecutor in Tehran told news agency ISNA that Panahi was arrested neither for his professional work, nor for political reasons. He is suspected of having committed a crime. The prosecutor did not reveal further details.
49-year-old Panahi is a supporter of the Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi. Online media affiliated with the opposition reported that Panahi was arrested in his house along with his wife, his daughter, and other government critics.
(4 p.m.)


3. Another dispatch was released on the website of German weekly magazine “Focus” today

Film director Panahi arrested

The renowned Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, who had already been banned from attending this year’s film festival in Berlin, has been arrested in Tehran. This was reported by government opponents.

Opposition websites quoted Panahi’s son, according to whom Panahi was arrested Monday night together with his wife, his daughter, and other dissidents.

According to this information, all in all 18 people were arrested during a private gathering in Panahi’s house, and sent to an unknown location. There is no official confirmation as of yet.

49-year-old Panahi had been invited to attend the 60th Berlin Film Festival in February as a honorary guest. He is considered one of the most important independent filmmakers in Iran. In 2000, his film “The Circle” won the Golden Lion in Venice, his film “Offside” was awarded a Silver Bear in Berlin in 2006.


4. The important German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” has also published an article on this issue, which basically contains the news contained in the above mentioned articles, so I will not translate it here and just give the link to the German source for the sake of making this roundup more complete.

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