Iran halts Jafar Panahi from attending Berlinale

Celebrated Iranian director has won fest's Silver Bear award

The Iranian government has intervened to prevent Berlinale Silver Bear winning-director Jafar Panahi ("Offside") from attending this year's festival. Panahi was scheduled to take part in a panel on Feb. 17 entitled "Iranian Cinema: Present and Future: Expectations Inside and Outside of Iran." The panel is part of the World Cinema Fund day events in Berlin.

"We are surprised and deeply regret that a director who has won so many international prizes has been denied the possibility to take part in our anniversary festival and to speak about his cinematic visions," commented Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.

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Jafar Panahi is one of Iran's most celebrated directors and, in addition to taking Venice's Golden Lion for "Dayereh" (2000), has won awards in Cannes, Locarno and San Sebastian.