Jafar Panahi still in jail
Celebrated Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi who had made films like The White Balloon, The Circle, Offside among others, was placed under arrest by the Iranian authorities in April 2010. Despite international pressure to release him, and his wife Tahereh Saeedi’s fear for his health, he continues to be in jail, and according to recent reports has been moved to a smaller cell.
It is a case of life imitating art. There is as yet absolutely no clarity over the reasons for this arrest. It began in February when Panahi was not given permission to leave the country to attend the Berlinale Film Festival. No reason was quoted officially at the time of the arrest. There have been muffled reasons like he was making an ‘anti-regime’ film which spoke about the events following the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. His wife has denied these claims.
Following growing international pressure, another garbled reason was leaked, claiming that his arrest wasn’t political but he had been “accused of some crimes and arrested with another person following an order by a judge,” (quote from an AFP report). Others have simply stated that he has been arrested because he poses a threat to the country’s security.
The film community from across the world has raised its voice against this unfair arrest. At the moment, support pouring in from Hollywood actors and directors like Martin Scorcese, Ethan and Joel Coen, Robert DeNiro, Michael Moore etc is making the headlines, even though there seems to be no move towards releasing Panahi.
There are also various online petitions doing the rounds. The one endorsed by the family is http://www.petitiononline.com/FJP2310/petition.html