Pusan Int'l Film Fest 'Absolutely Outraged' Over Iran's Sentencing of Director Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi

Event organizers issued a statement Friday heavily criticizing the filmmaker's six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on making movies.

SEOUL -- Pusan International Film Festival issued a statement heavily criticizing the Iranian government's sentencing of the director Jafar Panahi and his fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof Friday.

"Pusan International Film Festival is absolutely outraged," the statement read. "We strongly believe that it is nothing but unjustified suppression to 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 Prix de la Camera d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. He also received other prestigious awards such as Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival for The Circle and the Silver Bear at 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 petition 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."