Berlin Supports Imprisoned Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi With Screenings, Panel Discussions

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The festival had invited Panahi to be a member of the international jury for the 2011 festival.


BERLIN -- The Berlin Film Festival will show its support for imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi by screening several of Panahi's films and hosting a discussion with Iranian filmmakers on the issue of state censorship and government oppression in Iran.

Berlin had invited Panahi to be a member of the international jury for the 2011 festival, sending a clear signal to the regime in Tehran, who sentenced the director to six years in prison and banned him for making movies for the next 20 years.

"We are going to use every opportunity to protest against this drastic verdict," said Berlin Festival director Dieter Kosslick.

Tehran accuses Panahi of helping to incite the opposition protest rallies that rocked the country last year. An Iranian court found him guilty of "colluding in the gathering and making of propaganda" against the regime and of making a film without official government sanction.

On Feb. 11, Berlin will screen Panahi's Offside, a film about Iranian girls trying to sneak into men-only soccer stadiums, which won Berlin's Silver Bear in 2006. The festival will also feature a selection of Panahi's work in all of its official sections.

On Feb. 17, the Berlinale Talent Campus and the World Cinema Fund will host a discussion with Iranian filmmakers including actor/director Rafi Pitts (The Hunter), about censorship in Iran.