APSA decries Panahi detention

Iranian director detained in night raid on home

SYDNEY -- Des Power, chairman of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards on Wednesday called on the Australian government to intervene in the reported detention of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.

Panahi was held at his home together with his wife Mahnaz Mohammadi, daughter and 15 guests on Monday evening, opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi's Web site Kaleme said. The director supported Mousavi in last year's disputed presidential election.  

Panahi was a member of the jury for the APSA in 2007. Power said the APSA has strong links with the creative community of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Panahi is one of several Iranian filmmakers who have served on APSA’s International Jury and Nominations Council, while Iranian films have won major awards at the APSA’s every year, including Asghar Farhadi’s “Darbareye Elly” ("About Elly") in 2009.

“I call on our government, particularly Arts minister Peter Garrett, to urge Iranian authorities to release Mr. Panahi and the members of his family who may have been detained," Power said in a statement. “I am deeply concerned over reports of Jafar’s arrest. He is an extraordinary and courageous filmmaker and highly respected by the international film community,” Power added.

Garrett’s office was not immediately available for comment.