Pusan Film Festival Decries Panahi Sentence

Asia's top film festival denounces Iranian filmmaker's six years of imprisonment.

SEOUL -- The Pusan International Film Festival on Friday issued a statement heavily criticizing the Iranian government decision to sentence director Jafar Panahi and his fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof

“The Pusan International Film Festival is absolutely outraged,” the statement read. “We strongly believe that it is nothing but unjustified suppression of one of the greatest filmmakers in the world.”

His film The Circle deals with the discrimination of women in Iran, through the eyes of women released from prison. In another film, Offside, the director told a story of girls who have to disguise themselves to watch a football game. Panahi's feature debut film The White Balloon won him a Camera d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. He has also received other prestigious awards such as the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Offside.

“Imprisonment for six years with banning them from making films for 20 years is the same as taking their lives,” the statement read. “It is a serious insult to the world of not just filmmaking but any other creative art forms. The right to freedom of expression has to be upheld because it is the important base for the better future for all mankind."