William Dafoe, Director Joe Dante Join Protesters Seeking Imprisoned Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi's Freedom

 Mar del Plata International Film Festival

BUENOS AIRES -- Festival guests at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival joined the event’s president, Jose Martinez Suarez, jury members and staff for a public protest under the slogan “Free Panahi.”

Willem Dafoe, American director Joe Dante and Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky also took part in Saturday's demonstration against the Iranian courts’ decision to confirm the six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban of director Jafar Panahi, whose latest movie, This Is Not a Film, was shot secretly, smuggled out of Iran and premiered at the Festival de Cannes in May.

“We condemn this sentence to freedom of speech,” said Martinez Suarez, who in the name of the festival demanded the “immediate release of this great filmmaker.”

Elsewhere, the Argentine family drama Back to Stay took the best film award at the festival. The only fest in Latin America to have the FIAPF’s A category also named Argentine first-time helmer Milagros Mumenthaler best director.

A Ruda Cine/Alina Films production about three sisters -- played by Maria Canale, Ailin Salas and Martina Juncadella -- dealing with the death of their grandmother, Back to Stay was the first Argentine film to win the top prize at the Locarno International Film Festival in August, where it also took home best actress for Canale and the FIPRESCI award.

British actor Paddy Considine’s directorial debut, Tyrannousaur, picked up best script and a jury special mention. Best actor went to Olivier Gourmet for Pierre Schoeller's The Minister, while Joslyn Jensen picked up best actress for Mark Jackson's Without.

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