Published in German daily newspaper “Die Welt” on 29 May 2010
Source (German)
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

Concerns are growing Among exiled Iranians in Germany over the filmmaker, painter and philosopher Daryush Shokof. 55-year-old Shokof was last seen Monday at Cologne central station, where he intended to board a train to Paris. However, he seems to have never arrived there – at least he did not keep any of his appointments in the French capital. Neither his wife Taies Farzan, an actress, nor his friends have received a sign of life from him for five days.

Shokof had left Iran – then Persia – under the Shah in order to study in the United States, and did not return to the Iran of the mollahs. He has been living and working in Germany since 1985, and has become one of the most vocal critics of the Islamic Republic. Five years ago he went on a seven-day hunger strike outside the headquarters of the Green Party in Berlin, demanding freedom and justice for his home country. Last year, he went on a four-day hunger strike outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin after Russian President Medvedev had been the first statesman to recognize the official result of the rigged presidential elections in Iran.

Shokof belongs to a radical part of the exiled Iranian opposition whose members are strictly against any contact with the regime in Tehran. In an open letter addressed to the Berlin film festival, he criticized that the organizers invited Iranian films that have an official permit of the Iranian regime to attend the festival. He directed the same reproach to the Cannes film festival. He argued that any invitation of that kind is a “political” one, not a “cultural” one (as claimed by the festival management), because the regime in Iran uses them to strengthen its reputation inside and outside the country.

His own films also became increasingly political. His first movie “Seven Servants” – with Anthony Quinn in one of his last roles – expressed the philosophy of “maximalism”, using all creative energies for the purpose of a united mankind. “Breathful”, created three years ago in Berlin, is a gangster comedy with one important feature: All parts are played by women. With this movie, Shokof pointed out to the mollahs that women can stand their ground in male domains such as gangster movies.

His latest filme “Iran Zendan” (“Iran Prison”) was premiered only three weeks ago in the cinema “Babylon” in Berlin. The movie reflects the protests against the outcome of the presidential election and accompanies detained protesters on their way into the system’s torture chambers.

Since after the rigged elections, Iranian filmmakers are spearheading the protesting creative artists. The annual number of films produced by the Iranian cinema approximately equals that of Germany’s cinema (100 – 150 films). Cinema in Iran is an important cultural factor. Last Tuesday, Iranian film director Jafar Panahi was released from a prison in Tehran after eight weeks of detention.


Note: A short article on this subject was also published in German daily