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Iran Criticizes Cannes Advocacy of Jafar Panahi

Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Jafar Panahi has openly supported the Green Opposition Movement

Iranian Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs Javad Shamaqdarii has censured the Cannes Film Festival for its support for imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.

Shamaqdarii objected to the action taken by the film festival during his visit with Cannes president Gilles Jacob at the Cannes Film Market last Tuesday.

Cannes jury head, U.S. director Tim Burton, joined with international filmmakers' calls for Panahi's release, and left one seat symbolically vacant for him on stage at its opening ceremony on May 5.

Afterwards, French culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand read to the festival a letter from Panahi, which he said had been smuggled out of Evin Prison, hailing those who are calling for his release.

In addition, at a press conference for his "Certified Copy", Iranian independent filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami made a plea for Panahi's release.


Panahi was detained in early March allegedly for making a movie about the 2009 presidential election in Iran.

"We believe that the Cannes festival has been established to link people through art and culture. Cannes' involvement in political issues damages the reputation of the festival," Shamaqdarii told Jacob.

"Perhaps Cannes considers its action regarding a certain issue to be for humanitarian reasons, but its external repercussions as reflected in the media are completely political," he stated.

Jacob described the Cannes festival's actions in support of Panahi as humanitarian rather than political and noted that the festival's organizers respect the independence of countries.

He said that the Cannes organizers did not intend to take harmful action against the Iranian government by inviting Panahi to join the festival's jury.

On Thursday, the Islamic Revolution Court website announced that the Tehran prosecutor general ordered Panahi's requests to be examined. However, no details were given about Panahi's pleas.

Panahi has gone on a hunger strike to protest the circumstances of his detention.

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