Berlin Invites Arrested Iranian Directors for 2012 Fest

9:00 AM PST 01/02/2012 by Scott Roxborough
Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Tehran detained the three directors for allegedly supporting the pro-democracy Green Movement in 2010.

COLOGNE, Germany – The Berlin Film Festival is showing its solidarity with the three Iranian directors arrested for their alleged involvement with the Green Movement protests against the Tehran regime.

Berlin Festival director Dieter Kosslick said he will invite Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mehdi Pourmoussa to be “honored guests” of the 2012 festival.

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Fellow Persian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi, whose critically-acclaimed A Separation won Berlin's Golden Bear last year, will be on the jury for this year's event, which runs Feb. 9-19.

It is unclear whether any of the three directors will be able to travel to Berlin. Last October, an Iranian appeals court upheld Panahi's sentence: a six-year prison term, 20-year ban from making films and a ban on leaving the country. Rasoulof's prison sentence was reduced from six years to one year on appeal but it is unclear if Iranian authorities will allow him or Pourmoussa to leave the country.

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Panahi, director of the award-winning The Circle, The White Ballon and Offside, is the best-known of the many filmmakers arrested in 2010 for their support of the Green Movement. Last year, the Berlin Festival invited Panahi to be a member of its international jury but the Iranian government prevented him from leaving the country. Isabella Rossellini, jury president that year, used the festival's opening ceremonies to protest Panahi's imprisonment and read out a letter from the director.

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