Julianne Moore & Audrey Diwan Lead Venice Red Carpet Protest In Support Of Jafar Panahi

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Venice jury head Julianne Moore joined activists from the International Coalition Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) in a flash mob on the Venice red carpet Friday evening to call for the release of Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who was detained in Tehran in July.

Venice jury member Audrey Diwan joined Moore on the frontlines of the protest alongside filmmaker Sally Potter, Orizzonti Jury President Isabel Coixet, and Venice festival head Antonio Barbera.

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The participants held placards depicting Panahi’s face alongside the message: “Release Jafar Panahi!”

The protest took place on the Palazzo Del Cinema red carpet prior to the screening of Pahani’s latest film No Bears, which screens in competition.

Panahi has been in custody since July 12 after going to the prosecutor’s office in Tehran to follow up on the whereabouts of filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad after they were arrested a few days prior. It later emerged that the Iranian authorities had decided to reactivate a suspended six-year sentence originally handed out to Panahi in 2010 alongside a 20-year filmmaking and travel ban.

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Alberto Barbera, Julianne Moore, and Sally Potter. - Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Alberto Barbera, Julianne Moore, and Sally Potter. - Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Victor Boyko/Getty Images

His detention comes amid a clampdown on freedom of expression in Iran as the government reins in a wave of popular protests about a raft of issues, including the cost-of-living crisis, the government’s handling of a deadly building collapse, and stricter dress codes for women.

Panahi, who broke out internationally in 1995 with Cannes Caméra d’Or winner The White Balloon, has spent much of his later filmmaking career caught up in the crosshairs of the Iranian authorities.

He was first arrested in July 2009 after attending the funeral of Neda Agha-Soltan, a philosophy student who was shot dead in Tehran by government-backed militiamen, while participating in so-called Green Revolution protests.

Panahi was arrested for a second time in March 2010 while shooting a feature set against the backdrop of the Green Revolution. In December of that year, he was handed a six-year suspended prison sentence, none of which he has served until now.

Panahi has continued to make films clandestinely during this period, including 2011’s This Is Not A Film and the Golden Bear-winning docu-comedy-drama Taxi. 

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