- Title: FRANCE: Support for imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi steps up in Cannes
- Date: 20th May 2010
- Summary: CANNES, FRANCE (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH CULTURE MINISTER FRANCOIS MITTERAND SAYING: "It is inacceptable. I have said it and resaid it, everybody should know about it. I am sure that President Ahmadinejad and his friends are not glued to the Cannes film festival on TV everyday, but I am sure that what we are saying here in an transfer of very important dialogue in an international cultural exchange sends a strong signal, particularly one of support to Mr Panahi and his family." VARIOUS OF CANNES CROISSETTE
- Reuters ID: LVA8F8XK6KLOXAU9XLAW7TCMYTI0
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:57
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: Support for Jafar Panahi steps up at the Cannes as reports emerge that the Iranian director who should have been at the film festival has begun a hunger strike.
Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami joined calls of solidarity for the imprisoned film-maker Jafar Panahi on Tuesday (May 18), as rumours emerged that the film-maker had gone on a hunger strike. Kiarostami said his government's imprisonment of colleague Jafar Panahi was "intolerable," and that film-makers and art in general are under attack in his home country.
Kiarostami, debuting his "Copie Conforme" ("Certified Copy") in competition at the Cannes film festival, said that for decades independent filmmakers in Iran have faced obstacles created by a government seeking to control their work.
One reporter asked Kiarostami about speculation Panahi was on a hunger strike. The director could not confirm such a protest, but talk of a hunger strike brought tears to the eyes of French actress Juliette Binoche who was sitting next to Kiarostami in whose film she stars.
Kiarostami said it was a sign of the dangers of filmmaking in Iran.
"So far I have never been afraid. I think that fear of course is something that doesn't depend on your own will - you can't simply decide to be afraid or not, What is certain is that the arrest of Jafar Panahi is a sign that now things have been taken a step further, beyond the limits in Iran, and what I want to do through this appeal is to remind people of this. There's an enormous problem, an enormous gap. Maybe this act that has been undertaken by Jafar will have a successful outcome possible. Things can't be forecast in Iran - all we can do is hope," said the director, through an interpreter at the film's news conference.
Panahi, a maker of films that examine social issues in the Islamic Republic, was a supporter of Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi in last year's disputed election that saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain power.
On March 1, Panahi and family members were held by Iranian security guards at his home, and since then Panahi has been in prison. Officials have confirmed the arrest but said it was not politically motivated, yet reports have said he was making an anti-government film which Panahi's son has denied.
Prominent filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and others have petitioned for Panahi's release, and French government ministers also asked that he be freed so that he could attend the Cannes festival.
"It is inacceptable," the French Culture Minister, Francois Mitterand said. "I have said it and resaid it, everybody should know about it. I am sure that President Ahmadinejad and his friends are not glued to the Cannes film festival on TV everyday, but I am sure that what we are saying here in an transfer of very important dialogue in an international cultural exchange sends a strong signal, particularly one of support to Mr Panahi and his family."
Mitterand said that the French goivernment had undertaken steps to push for the release of Panahi with the support of the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Panahi won the Camera d'Or prize at the Cannes for his 1995 movie, "White Balloon," and was to sit on the 2010 film jury.
On Sunday (May 16), a report on Mousavi's website said Iranian security officers went to Panahi's house and threatened his family members with arrest if they spoke to the media.
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