Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Arrested in Tehran

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Jafar Panahi, the Iranian dissident filmmaker known for films such as “Taxi” and “This Is Not a Film,” was arrested Monday in Tehran, according to the French news agency AFP.

AFP cited news agency Mehr saying that Panahi, the winner of the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear in 2015, was arrested Monday after he visited the prosecutor’s office in Tehran to “follow up on the situation of another filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof.”

Panahi, 62, is the third filmmaker arrested in the matter of a week, as it was reported by Iranian state news agency IRNA late Friday that both Rasoulof and colleague Mostafa Aleahmad had also been detained. The two directors were arrested after participating in protests over a building that had collapsed in the city of Abadan in May.

The Cannes Film Festival on Monday called for the release of all three filmmakers and condemned their arrest.

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“The Festival de Cannes strongly condemns these arrests as well as the wave of repression obviously in progress in Iran against its artists. The Festival calls for the immediate release of Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Aleahmad and Jafar Panahi,” the festival wrote in a statement: “The Festival de Cannes also wishes to reassert its support to all those who, throughout the world, are subjected to violence and repression. The Festival remains and will always remain a haven for artists from all over the world and it will relentlessly be at their service in order to convey their voices loud and clear, in the defense of freedom of creation and freedom of speech.”

The 10-story Metropol building collapsed while it was under construction and killed 43 people, sparking a wave of demonstrations in which officials and police fired warning shots, made arrests of demonstrators and even used tear gas, according to AFP.

Rasoulof and Al-Ahmad were among those who had published an open letter calling on authorities to “lay down their arms,” leading to their arrest.

Panahi has been barred from leaving Iran since 2010, despite winning awards at several film festivals since then. For a time, Panahi had specifically been barred from making any more movies and had been placed under house arrest, leading to the release of his experimental project “This Is Not a Film.” But he has since been allowed to move freely about the country.

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