Award-winning filmmaker arrested
In Iran, award-winning filmmaker/director Jafar Penahi has been arrested. Penahi became the third filmmaker arrested in the last three days.
The Mehr news agency said, “Cafer Panahi was arrested when he went to the prosecutor’s office to follow up on the case of another filmmaker, Mohammed Rasulof.”
The state news agency IRNA reported late Friday that Resulof, also an award-winning filmmaker, was arrested along with his colleague Mustafa Ali Ahmed.
Penahi, 62, won a number of awards at international festivals, including the first prize for “Taxi” in Berlin in 2015 and the best screenplay at Cannes for the film “Three Hundred” in 2018.
But after his support of anti-government protests and a series of films critical of modern Iran, he has been banned from leaving the country to receive any of these awards since he was found guilty of “propaganda against the system” in 2010.
The 50-year-old easulof won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2020 for his film “No Evil”, but was likewise unable to accept the award in person as he was forbidden to leave Iran.
The official news agency IRNA reported that Rasulof and Ali Ahmed were arrested in connection with the events that sparked angry protests over a deadly building collapse of the Metropolis building in the city of Abadan.
“Amid the heartbreaking incident in Abadan Metropol, [the producers] were busy inciting unrest and undermining the psychological safety of society,” IRNA wrote.
The 10-storey Metropol building, which is under construction in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, collapsed on May 23 and 43 people lost their lives.
The developments led to demonstrations of solidarity with the families of the victims. Many faced tear gas, warning shots and arrests by the police as demonstrators demanded that the “incompetent officials” responsible for the tragedy be prosecuted and punished.
A group of Iranian filmmakers led by Rasulof has released an open letter urging security forces to “lay down their arms” in the face of anger over “corruption, theft, inefficiency and repression” surrounding the Abadan collapse.
Organizers of the Berlin film festival on Saturday protested the arrest of Resulof and Ali Ahmed and called for their release.