Future unclear for banned Iranian director after movie premiere
| Andrew McCathie |
BERLIN (dpa) – The co-director of banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s new film said on Tuesday the two faced an uncertain future after they defied authorities and produced a new movie.
“Well, there is nothing we can expect,” Kamboziya Partovi told a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival. “Nothing has happened. We don’t what the future holds for us.”
The restrictions imposed on the 52-year-old Panahi have triggered depression and even thoughts of suicide, said Partovi.
“He was not constantly thinking about suicide,” Partovi said. “But if I imagine myself unable to work and just sitting at home, then I am sure I would start to think about suicide.”
An uncertain fate also applies to Maryam Moghadam, who is a newcomer to Iranian cinema and played a young woman in the film, Parde (Closed Curtain), being chased by the authorities for attending an illicit party.
She ends up in a secluded beachside villa with another fugitive – a late middle-aged man, played by Partovi, and his dog. He is also attempting to hide from the authorities after dogs were deemed to be unclean under Islamic law.
Partovi said he and Panahi, who has been banned by the Iranian authorities from making films for 20 years, produced the movie “to help bridge a difficult time. We did not want hide the film.
The German government made a last-minute appeal on Monday to Iran to allow the 52-year-old Panahi to travel to Berlin for the world premiere of the film.
Outside the Berlin screening of Parde were life-sized models of Panahi with the words written across them: “I ought to be here.”
Panahi’s films – The Circle and Offside – have turned him into one of the most internationally recognised Iranian directors, with his movies having won awards at several of the world’s leading film festivals.
In 2000, he won top honours at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle and the Berlin Film Festival’s best director’s award in 2006 for Offside.
But in the meantime, Panahi conflict with the Iranian authorities has grown, culminating in 2010 with a six-year jail sentence and the 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, or giving any interviews and leaving the country.
It is unclear whether the authorities plan to carry out the sentence.
The situation of the Iranian film industry is getting worse, industry observers say.
Culture ministry officials now openly say that they only support filmmakers “committed to the establishment” and not those who want to create “a dark image full of scepticism” about Iranian society.
Most Iranian filmmakers try therefore to produce their films abroad.
In a sense, Parde draws parallels with Panahi’s own predicament. The film opens with Partovi’s character immediately drawing all the curtains after he arrived at the villa. Panahi himself also appears briefly in the film.
“Here we have something about him and his predicament,” said Partovi. “When he is not allowed to say anything about other people he has to speak about himself.”
Parde also represents something of a sequel to Panahi’s 2011 video diary This Is Not A Film, which was produced illegally and screened at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
The world’s leading film festivals and top movie organisations have regularly challenged the Iranian authorities over their treatment of film makers in the nation.
Two years ago, both Cannes and the Berlinale invited Panahi to join their festivals’ juries, but his detention kept him away.
This year’s Berlinale jury also includes Iranian director Shirin Neshat, who lives in the US.
In an unprecedented move in 2011, the Berlinale awarded all its top prizes to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi for his movie A Separation.
A year later, A Separation became the first Iranian film to win an academy award when it was awarded an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film.